COTTERILL, F. P. D. (2003)

Insights into the taxonomy of tsessebe antelopes, Damaliscus lunatus (Bovidae: Alcelaphini) in south-central Africa: with the description of a new evolutionary species.

Durban Museum Novitates 28: 11-30.


This paper reviews the taxonomy of selected African alcelaphine antelopes affiliated with Damaliscus lunatus, with a focus on the tsessebes D. l. lunatus, of south-central Africa and east African nyamera D. l. jimela. Of a total of 244 specimens examined, morphological variation of 219 specimens of Damaliscus from south-central and east Africa was analysed; these represent populations in northeastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, northeast Zambia and east Africa (Kenya and Tanzania). Multivariate statistical analyses of skull measurements were complemented by comparisons of pelage colouration. These character analyses discerned two populational lineages of tsessebes. These being D. lunatus (central Zimbabwe, Botswana and southern Africa), and the Bangweulu tsessebe in northeast Zambia. The latter is described as a new evolutionary species, D. superstes. This provisional analysis of the diversity of Damaliscus unequivocally distinguished two clades - the lunatus complex (comprising all south-central African tsessebes) from the korrigum complex (populations in east, west, and north Africa). These insights into morphological diversity of Damaliscus clearly endorses a revision for the genus, as errors weaken the time-honoured taxonomy. It is argued that the Evolutionary Species Concept (ESC) is superior to the Biological Species Concept (BSC) in characterizing the diversity of these antelopes precisely and accurately. A revised taxonomy has significant implications for the management of these antelopes.


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