The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Phylogenetic relationships, biogeography, and taxonomy of spider monkeys (Ateles sp.)


1Anthropology, New York University, 2Museum of Zoology & Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, 3Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, 4NYCEP, New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology

Friday 2:30-2:45, Parlors Add to calendar

Spider monkeys (genus Ateles) are widely distributed from Mexico to northern Bolivia and include many allopatric forms with morphologically distinct pelage coloration and patterning. The taxonomy, phylogenetic relationships, and biogeographic history of the genus have been subject of much debate. We explored the genetic relationships among the different forms of spider monkeys using ~3.9 kb of sequence data from the ND5, ND6 and Cyt b genes of the mitochondrion for seven putative species of Ateles, using Callicebus and Alouatta as outgroups. Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian reconstructions, recovered identical tree topologies with high statistical support. All putative species for which more than one sample was available formed monophyletic lineages, and A. marginatus was identified as the first taxon to branch off within the Ateles clade. Using BEAST, we inferred that all species of Ateles shared a last common ancestor ~8.0 mya, far earlier than the data suggested by other molecular analyses. Ateles belzebuth diverged from other spider monkeys ~5.7 mya and A. hybridus around ~4.6 mya; the divergence between the trans-Andean forms (A. hybridus, A. fusciceps, and A. geoffroyi) and A. paniscus dates to ~4.0 mya. These early cladogenic events preclude a significant role for Pleistocene Refugia Theory to explain patterns of speciation within Ateles. Our results challenge previous ideas about spider monkey evolutionary history and suggest a new biogeographic scenario for the distribution of Ateles in South and Central America.

This project was supported by an NSF DDIG, Primate Conservation, Inc., New York University and the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology.

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