Anthony Cavallaro, Matthew Goselin, Samantha Noe, and Victoria Scarfo (Bio323 Evolution, Fall 2019, Stonehill College)
White Headed Langurs (Trachypithecus leucocephalus) are an endangered primate species located in China’s Guangxi province. These species are threatened due to low genetic diversity, but why? This podcast will attempt to explain the origin of the low genetic diversity of the Langurs.
Low genetic diversity in the Asian Colobines, the primate category that encompasses the White Headed Langur, is an underlying issue among these species of Asian primates. Specifically, the White Headed Langur has faced harsh population decline in the past years due to deforestation and human interactions which, along with their low genetic diversity, adds to the totality of the issue. This ends up making these animals one of the most endangered primate species in the entire world. The low genetic diversity was originally thought to be a result of either a population bottleneck or a founder effect. However, after further testing and analysis by the researchers, it was determined that the low genetic diversity has been a historically stable part of the langur’s genome. The two subpopulations, Chongzuo and Fusui, have very few haplotypes in the region of mitochondrial DNA that was analyzed. The Chongzuo subpopulation had only 1 haplotype while the Fusui subpopulation had only 9 haplotypes, even though the two species only live about 30 miles apart from one another. This means that even though there is very little genetic diversity within the whole Langur population, between subpopulations, there is actually quite a lot of differentiation. So it really does not make sense that these two subpopulations differ so greatly.
The research conducted by Weiran Wang, Yitao Zheng, Jindong Zhao, and Meng Yao ultimately sheds light on the issue of habitat loss and deforestation. The researchers did extensive research on the two langur populations and concluded that their populations are stable even though they have fairly low population sizes.
Lastly, as a society, we must worry about these endangered species as their population decline is in part due to human involvement. The deforestation of their habitats and destruction of their environment is a problem that the world must solve. Without the proper conservation efforts scientists, ecologists, and the general population will never be able to understand the small primates. There needs to be some reform to allow for regeneration of the populations of langurs. But the conservation efforts do not only relate to the langurs, it relates to all of the endangered species within the world. Industrialization is directly affecting our vibrant populations of diverse species and we need to help save them. Increasing the overall awareness of the dire needs that many of the world’s populations are facing and participating in “green” steps and initiatives are all important ways that every person can contribute to conservation. Conservation is a principal concern that we can all contribute to. What you do in your backyard can affect the langurs across the world.
Article: Meng, et al. “Low genetic diversity in a critically endangered primate: shallow evolutionary history or recent population bottleneck?” BMC Evolutionary Biology. Art. 134. 26 Jun, 2019. <“https://bmcevolbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12862-019-1451-y>
Music Credits: Credit to Mixaund, https://mixaund.bandcamp.com/
Photo Credits: “Langur Monkey” by Manoj Nair is licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Langur_Monkey.JPG>
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