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Morphological variation of genetically confirmed Alouatta Pigra × A. palliata hybrids from a natural hybrid zone in Tabasco, Mexico

Authors

  • Mary A. Kelaita,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249-1644
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1107
    • Department of Anthropology, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249-1644
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  • Liliana Cortés-Ortiz

    1. Museum of Zoology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079
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Abstract

While hybridization has been reported for a large number of primate taxa, there is a general lack of data on hybrid morphology for wild individuals with known genetic ancestry. A confirmed hybrid zone for the closely related Neotropical primates Alouatta palliata and A. pigra has provided a unique opportunity to study primate hybrid morphological variation. Here we used molecular evidence based on mitochondrial, Y-chromosome, and autosomal data to assess hybrid ancestry. We conducted univariate and multivariate statistical comparisons of morphometric data collected from individuals both outside and within the hybrid zone in Tabasco, Mexico. Our results show that of all the hybrids detected (N = 128), only 12% of them were approximately genetically intermediate, and none of them were first generation hybrids. Univariate pairwise comparisons among parental individuals, multigenerational backcrossed hybrids, and intermediate hybrids showed that overall, multigenerational backcrossed hybrids resemble the parental species with which they share most of their alleles. Conversely, intermediates were highly variable. Similarly, principal component analysis depicts an overlap between the parental species and their backcrosses when considering overall morphological differences. Finally, discriminant function analysis of the morphological variables was overall unreliable for classifying individuals into their assigned genotypic classes. Taken together, our results suggest that primate natural hybridization studies should incorporate molecular methods for determining ancestry, because morphology may not always be a reliable indicator of hybrid status. Hybrid zones could comprise a large number of multigenerational backcrossed hybrids that are indistinguishable from the parental species. The implications for studying hybridization in the primate fossil record are discussed. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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