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Keywords:

  • bovid;
  • conservation;
  • control region;
  • greater kudu;
  • impala;
  • mtDNA;
  • phylogeography

Abstract

The phylogeography of the bush habituated African bovid species impala (Aepyceros melampus) and greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is investigated using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers. Combined analysis of individual lineages, relationships and population genetics suggest a colonization process from Southern Africa toward Eastern regions in the greater kudu. Results are less clear for the impala, although remaining consistent with a similar pattern of historical dispersion. The study reveals a similar pattern, that is a marked divergence of lineages from South-western Africa relative to other regions. This pattern is opposed to previously published findings in other African bovid species. In the impala, the genetically isolated region is consistent with morphology because it is recognized as the subspecies A. m. petersi, the black-faced impala. In contrast, the similar split of South-western mitochondrial lineages was not expected in the greater kudu on the basis of morphology. Both species show a significant population genetic differentiation. Beyond their phylogeographical value, our results should raise conservation concerns about South-western populations of both species. The black-faced impala is categorized as vulnerable and our data show indications of hybridization with common impala A. m. melampus. The previously unrecognized genetic status of the South-western kudus could also imply conservation regulations.