Name: Costeira I

Biodeserts supervisors: Ferreira Silva MJ

Co-supervisors: Tania Minhós (University of Minho)

Title: Insights into insular primates:  conservation genetics of Cercopithecus petaurista buettikoferi, Cercopithecus campbelli and Chlorocebus sabaeus in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau

Institution: University of Minho, Portugal

Status: Completed



Habitat destruction and bushmeat hunting are promoting world-wide fragmentation and demographic contractions of primate populations, of which insular populations are thought to be particularly susceptible to extinction because of a presumably reduced genetic diversity and evolutionary potential. The Bijagós archipelago (BA), located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau (GB) in West Africa, sustain high levels of biodiversity of worldwide-recognised importance. The primate species occurring at BA – the Western lesser spot-nosed guenon (Cercopithecus petaurista buettikoferi), mona monkey (Cercopithecus campbelli) and, the green monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) – are at the fringe of distribution and may have a high conservation value. Insular populations of C. p. buettikoferi are presumably the last populations in GB but have never been genetically surveyed across different islands. In this work, I aimed at updating the occurrence of the three primates species in BA, investigate their most likely mainland origin and evaluate their extinction vulnerability by estimating genetic diversity, population substructure and demographic history. Non-invasive DNA sampling was conducted in seven islands of BA and five different protected areas in the mainland. Fragments of mitochondrial DNA (cytochrome b gene and, mitochondrial control region) and ten autosomal microsatellite loci were used as genetic markers. C. p. buettikoferi’s and C. campbelli‘s occurrence in sampled islands seems to remain unaltered from the most recent but twenty-years-old surveys carried out in BA. However, Chl. sabaeus seems to be currently absent from Galinha, Canhabaque, Uno, Uracane and Caravela. For the primates occurring at both BA and mainland, insular populations were genetically less diverse, particularly C. campbelli. The surrounding areas of the Geba Channel (Quinara administrative region) were suggested as the probable source of insular populations. The genetic diversity of insular C. p. buettikoferi was not exceedingly low for both genetic markers at sampled islands. The population seems to be strongly structured by island, but evidence for migration between islands and admixture between genetic clusters were found. Naturally occurring gene flow between islands is improbable considering socio-ecological features of the species, and human-induced translocation of individuals may be a more likely explanation. The present work was the most complete genetic assessment of the three guenon species occurring at BA to date. It highlighted the importance of human communities in shaping past and current genetic dynamics of these insular populations by presumably promoting translocations to and within BA while also suggesting that primate populations may be negatively impacted if environmental damaging anthropogenic activities increase in the future.