The phyletic position and systematics of the douc langurs of Southeast Asia


  • Nina G. Jablonski

    1. Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, and Centre for Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118-4599
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In recent years, two major questions concerning the phyletic relationships and systematic position of the douc langurs have arisen. These concern, firstly, the taxonomic level at which the doucs as a group should be distinguished and, secondly, the number of taxa of doucs that should be recognized. It has recently been demonstrated on the basis of an exhaustive phylogenetic analysis that the doucs are generically distinct from the snub-nosed langurs and that they should be referred to as species of Pygathrix and Rhinopithecus, respectively [Jablonski and Peng, Folia Primatologica 60:36–55, 1993]. The present investigation was directed toward testing this conclusion using an expanded data set and a different method of character coding, and toward addressing the question as to the number of species or subspecies of doucs that should be recognized. A wide variety of data from large samples of doucs (n = 38), snub-nosed langurs (n = 53), and an out group (macaques; n = 191) were assembled, coded, and analyzed using an interactive computerized program for phylogenetic analysis. The specimens of Pygathrix examined included skeletal specimens, skins, and, when possible, living animals representing the three recognized taxa of doucs, nemaeus nigripes, and moi. The data base for the study comprised 178 characters, including measurements of skeletal specimens (98 characters), qualitative (presence or absence) morphological features (36 characters), characteristics of the pelage (39 characters), and 5 miscellaneous characters.

The conclusions of the study were that 1) as a group, the taxa of Pygathrix preserved a larger number of primitive features for the Pygathrix-Rhino-pithecus clade than did the taxa of Rhinopithecus; 2) the taxa of Pygathrix were less different from one another than are the species of Rhinopithecus were from one another; 3) the subspecies Pygathrix nemaeus moi Kloss, 1926 be synonymized with Pygathrix nemaeus nigripes, as suggested by Napier [Catalogue of Primates in the British Museum (Natural History) and Elsewhere in the British Isles. Port III Family Cercopithecidae, Sub-Family Colobinae. London, 1985]; 4) the extant doucs were best recognized as two subspecies, P. nemaeus nemaeus for the red-shanked douc and P. nemaeus nigripes for the black-shanked douc; and 5) the phylogeny of the doucs and snub-nosed langurs proposed by Jablonski and Peng[op cit.,1993] was found to be robust. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.