Evaluating the role of Pleistocene refugia, rivers and environmental variation in the diversification of central African duikers (genera Cephalophus and Philantomba). Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: This study aims to assess the role that Pleistocene refugia, rivers and local habitat conditions may have played in the evolutionary diversification of three central African duiker species (Cephalophus dorsalis, C. callipygus and Philantomba monticola). Genetic data from geo-referenced feces were collected from a wide range of sites across Central Africa. Historical patterns of population genetic structure were assessed using a~650bp fragment of the mitochondrial control region and contemporary patterns of genetic differentiation were evaluated using 12 polymorphic microsatellite loci. RESULTS: Mitochondrial analyses revealed that populations of C. callipygus and P. monticola in the Gulf of Guinea refugium are distinct from other populations in west central Africa. All three species exhibit signatures of past population expansion across much of the study area consistent with a history of postglacial expansion. There was no strong evidence for a riverine barrier effect in any of the three species, suggesting that duikers can readily cross major rivers. Generalized dissimilarity models (GDM) showed that environmental variation explains most of the nuclear genetic differentiation in both C. callipygus and P. monticola. The forest-savanna transition across central Cameroon and the Plateaux Batk region in southeastern Gabon show the highest environmentally-associated turnover in genetic variability. A pattern of genetic differentiation was also evident between the coast and forest interior that may reflect differences in precipitation and/or vegetation. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study highlight the historical impact of Pleistocene fragmentation and current influence of environmental variation on genetic structure in duikers. Conservation efforts should therefore target areas that harbor as much environmentally-associated genetic variation as possible in order to maximize species' capacity to adapt to environmental change.

published proceedings

  • BMC Evol Biol

altmetric score

  • 8.83

author list (cited authors)

  • Ntie, S., Davis, A. R., Hils, K., Mickala, P., Thomassen, H. A., Morgan, K., ... Anthony, N. M.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Ntie, Stephan||Davis, Anne R||Hils, Katrin||Mickala, Patrick||Thomassen, Henri A||Morgan, Katy||Vanthomme, Hadrien||Gonder, Mary K||Anthony, Nicola M

publication date

  • September 2017