Evidence of gene flow between Sulawesi macaques



A pilot field study was conducted in Sulawesi (Indonesia) to assess the status of macaque populations on the island. Wild and captive animals were sampled, mainly in border areas between presumed different species. The five species investigated were Macaca maurus, M. tonkeana, M. hecki, M. nigrescens, and M. nigra, for which morphological and gene frequency data suggested the presence of hybridization zones. Some individuals within these zones showed intermediate or mosaic morphology between parental forms. These individuals also had intermediate gene frequencies for most of the polymorphic systems investigated. Karyotypes were identical in all species, and no cytogenetic barrier to hybridization existed between species. A review of the recent literature also provided evidence for hybridization between Sulawesi macaques. Clinical frequencies in both morphological and biomolecular traits perhaps can be best explained by the operation of gene flow between the various forms of macaques on the island. However, additional data are necessary before current classification schemes are revised. The unique opportunity and need of further study of Sulawesi macaques for a range of evolutionary questions is emphasized.