Potential drivers of samango monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis schwarzi) population subdivision in a highly fragmented mountain landscape in northern South Africa.

Birthe Linden, Desire Lee Dalton, Anna M. van Wyk, Deon de Jager, Yoshan Moodley, Peter John Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forests affected by fragmentation are at risk of losing their primate populations over the long term. The impact of fragmentation on primate populations has been studied in several places in Africa, Asia and South America; however there has been no discernible pattern of how primates react to forest disturbance and fragmentation. In fragmented habitats, the probability of local extinction of a species increases due to a decrease in patch area and an increase in genetic isolation. Here we used microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA sequences to investigate how habitat fragmentation impacts on the genetic diversity and structure of a samango monkey population inhabiting forest patches in the Soutpansberg mountain range of northern South Africa. We sampled four local populations across the length of the mountain range and an additional outlying population from the Great Escarpment to the south. Our results indicate that local populations along the mountain range were historically more connected and less distinct than at present. In more recent times, a lack of contemporary gene flow is leading to a more pronounced genetic structure, causing population subdivision across the mountain and likely isolating the Soutpansberg population from the escarpment population to the south. Based on our results we suggest that natural and anthropogenic fragmentation are driving population genetic differentiation, and that the matrix surrounding forests and their suitability for samango monkey utilisation play a role at the local scale. The degree of genetic isolation found for samango monkey populations in our study raises concerns about the long-term viability of populations across the mountain range.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10329-022-00981-7


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