Natural and Anthropogenic Hybridization in Two Species of Eastern Brazilian Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus and C. penicillata)
Animal hybridization is well documented, but evolutionary outcomes and conservation priorities often differ for natural and anthropogenic hybrids. Among primates, an order with many endangered species, the two contexts can be hard to disentangle from one another, which carries important conservation implications. Callithrix marmosets give us a unique glimpse of genetic hybridization effects under distinct natural and human-induced contexts. Here, we use a 44 autosomal microsatellite marker panel to examine genome-wide admixture levels and introgression at a natural C. jacchus and C. penicillata species border along the Sao Francisco River in NE Brazil and in an area of Rio de Janeiro state where humans introduced these species exotically. Additionally, we describe for the first time autosomal genetic diversity in wild C. penicillata and expand previous C. jacchus genetic data. We characterize admixture within the natural zone as bimodal where hybrid ancestry is biased toward one parental species or the other. We also show evidence that Sao Francisco River islands are gateways for bidirectional gene flow across the species border. In the anthropogenic zone, marmosets essentially form a hybrid swarm with intermediate levels of admixture, likely from the absence of strong physical barriers to interspecific breeding. Our data show that while hybridization can occur naturally, the presence of physical, even if leaky, barriers to hybridization is important for maintaining species genetic integrity. Thus, we suggest further study of hybridization under different contexts to set well informed conservation guidelines for hybrid populations that often fit somewhere between "natural" and "man-made."