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Keywords:

  • Phylogeography;
  • Africa;
  • white-tailed mongoose;
  • Ichneumia albicauda;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • control region

Abstract

The phylogeography of the white-tailed mongoose Ichneumia albicauda is examined using phylogenetic analyses based on partial sequences of the mitochondrial control region. The phylogeny is used to: (1) Analyse the phylogeographic pattern of I. albicauda; (2) discuss the existing delimitation of subspecies; (3) test if the coloration of the tail tip, generally white but occasionally black in West African specimens, is a species polymorphism or if it has phylogenetic significance. Our results suggest a north–south division within white-tailed mongoose populations, and within the northern clade, we observe an east–west subdivision. This phylogenetic pattern is partly in concordance with the traditional division into six subspecies. The white-tailed mongoose probably originated in southern Africa, from where it dispersed northwards and colonized eastern and western parts of Africa, as well as the Arabian Peninsula. Colour polymorphism observed in Western populations reflects variation at the individual level.