Lemuroid phylogeny is a source of lively debate among primatologists. Reconstructions based on morphological, physiological, behavioural and molecular data have yielded a diverse array of tree topologies with few nodes in common. In the last decade, molecular phylogenetic studies have grown in popularity, and a wide range of sequences has been brought to bear on the problem, but consensus has remained elusive. We present an analysis based on a composite molecular data set of approx. 6,400 bp assembled from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database, including both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and diverse analytical methods. Our analysis consolidates some of the nodes that were insecure in previous reconstructions, but is still equivocal on the placement of some taxa. We conducted a similar analysis of a composite data set of approx. 3,600 bp to investigate the controversial relationships within the family Lemuridae. Here our analysis was more successful; only the position of Eulemur coronatus remained uncertain.
Males of most amphibian species possess specialized cutaneous glands, known as sexually dimorphic skin glands (SDSGs). SDSGs are usually clustered in specific body regions and are externally visible, but in some cases, external differences between males and females can be slight or absent, and the occurrence of SDSGs can only be disclosed by histological studies. Chemical signals produced by SDSGs markedly affect amphibian behaviour and reproduction, and therefore their occurrence, features, and location in the body could provide information on potential mechanisms of intraspecific communication in a particular species. In the present study, we perform light microscope (both histological and histochemical), and scanning electron microscope studies of skin samples from male and female adult specimens of the invasive bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus, covering several body regions that could hold SDSGs. Most skin areas analysed showed only ordinary granular and mucous glands despite remarkable sexual dimorphism that could be externally observed. By contrast, the male nuptial pads contained exclusively SDSGs that were hypertrophied specialized mucous glands (SMGs), closely resembling breeding glands described in other anurans. Our histochemical study revealed that these SMGs contain heterogeneous populations of secretory cells, possibly involved in pheromone production. We discuss these characteristics of the SDSGs found in L. catesbeianus, as well as the surface specialization of the nuptial pads (achieved by scanning electron microscopy) in the light of their potential role in the chemical communication in this invasive species.
Describing primate biodiversity is one of the main goals in primatology. Species are the fundamental unit of study in phylogeny, behaviour, ecology and conservation. Identifying species boundaries is particularly challenging for nocturnal taxa where only subtle morphological variation is present. Traditionally, vocal signals have been used to identify species within nocturnal primates: species-specific signals often play a critical role in mate recognition, and they can restrict gene flow with other species. However, little research has been conducted to test whether different “acoustic forms” also represent genetically distinct species. Here, we investigate species boundaries between two putative highly cryptic species of Eastern dwarf galagos (Paragalago cocosand P. zanzibaricus). We combined vocal and genetic data: molecular data included the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (1,140 bp) for 50 samples across 11 localities in Kenya and Tanzania, while vocal data comprised 221 vocalisations recorded across 8 localities. Acoustic analyses showed a high level of correct assignation to the putative species (approx. 90%), while genetic analyses identified two separate clades at the mitochondrial level. We conclude that P. cocos and P. zanzibaricus represent two valid cryptic species that probably underwent speciation in the Late Pliocene while fragmented in isolated populations in the eastern forests.