The Department of Anthropology Spring Colloquium Series presents Dr. George Perry with, Conservation and Extinction Genomics of Extant and Giant Subfossil Malagasy Lemurs.
Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot. More than 70% of the island's ~100 extant lemur species are now considered endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN, and other species groups are similarly imperiled. The conservation problem on Madagascar is best viewed as a continuous process, from the time that humans first arrived on the island ~2,300 years ago (or perhaps slightly earlier) through to today. In fact, while the biological and ecological diversity observed among extant lemurs and other taxa today is incredible, species diversity was even greater prior to the human colonization of Madagascar. For example, from unmineralized skeletal remains we know of at least 17 now-extinct, giant "subfossil" lemur species that survived until ~2,000 years to less than 500 years ago. My group is working to characterize this process through three complementary areas of research: Population genomics of the Malagasy people, conservation genomics of extant lemurs, and ancient DNA studies with the extinct subfossil lemurs. I will discuss how these data, when considered in the context of ecological and life history variables, can help us to i) identify extinction risk factors for lemurs and ii) ultimately understand better the history of human activity on Madagascar.
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