Using complete mitochondrial genome sequences, we provide the first molecular analysis of the phylogenetic position of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, Lagothrix flavicauda (a.k.a. Oreonax flavicauda), a critically endangered neotropical primate endemic to northern Perú. The taxonomic status and phylogenetic position of yellow-tailed woolly monkeys have been debated for many years, but in this study both Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic reconstructions unequivocally support a monophyletic woolly monkey clade that includes L. flavicauda as the basal taxon within the radiation. Bayesian dating analyses using several alternative calibrations suggest that the divergence of yellow-tailed woolly monkeys from other Lagothrix occurred in the Pleistocene, ~2.1. Ma, roughly 6.5 my after the divergence of woolly monkeys from their sister genus, Brachyteles. Additionally, comparative analysis of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 2 (. COX2) gene shows that genetic distances between yellow-tailed woolly monkeys and other Lagothrix from across the genus' geographic distribution fall well within the range of between-species divergences seen in a large number of other platyrrhine primate genera at the same locus and outside the range of between-genus divergences. Our results thus confirm a position within Lagothrix for the yellow-tailed woolly monkey and strongly suggest that the name Oreonax be formally considered a synonym for this genus. This revision in taxonomic status does not change the dire conservation threats facing the yellow-tailed woolly monkey in Perú, where the remaining wild population is estimated at only ~10,000 individuals living in a highly fragmented landscape.
- Dating analysis
- New World monkeys
- Yellow-tailed woolly monkey
Di Fiore, A., Chaves, P. B., Cornejo, F. M., Schmitt, C. A., Shanee, S., Cortés-Ortiz, L., Fagundes, V., Roos, C., & Pacheco, V. (2015). The rise and fall of a genus: Complete mtDNA genomes shed light on the phylogenetic position of yellow-tailed woolly monkeys, Lagothrix flavicauda, and on the evolutionary history of the family Atelidae (Primates: Platyrrhini). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 82(PB), 495-510. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2014.03.028