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Primates. 2006 Apr;47(2):158-64. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Low genetic diversity and biased distribution of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes in the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata yakui) on Yakushima Island.

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Laboratory of Human Evolution Studies, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa-Oiwakecho, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui) on Yakushima Island are an endemic subspecies and are closely related to the population of Kyushu, one of the main islands of Japan. Using feces collected throughout Yakushima Island, we examined mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to investigate the phylogeography of Japanese macaques. Six haplotypes were observed for a 203-bp fragment of the mtDNA control region. The nucleotide diversity (pi) was low (0.0021). The genetic divergence within the Yakushima population was lower (0.009) than that among four haplotypes of the Kyushu population (0.015), calculated using Kimura's two-parameter method. The mismatch distribution analysis of the six haplotypes of the Yakushima population suggested that the Yakushima population had experienced a sudden expansion in population size, which could be related to the bottleneck effect. The geographic distribution of the mtDNA haplotypes was not uniform. One haplotype was distributed widely, whereas the other five haplotypes were distributed only in the lowlands. The low genetic diversity and biased distribution are discussed in relation to an environmental crash caused by ancient volcanic activity near this island, which is postulated to have happened about 7,300 years ago, and the delayed recovery of highland vegetation.

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