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Complex phylogeographic history of central African forest elephants and its implications for taxonomy

Johnson-Bawe, Mireille, Clifford, Stephen L, Goossens, Benoit ORCID:, Nyakaana, Silvester, Curran, Bryan, White, Lee J. T., Wickings, E. Jean and Bruford, Michael William ORCID: 2007. Complex phylogeographic history of central African forest elephants and its implications for taxonomy. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7 , 244. 10.1186/1471-2148-7-244

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Background. Previous phylogenetic analyses of African elephants have included limited numbers of forest elephant samples. A large-scale assessment of mitochondrial DNA diversity in forest elephant populations here reveals a more complex evolutionary history in African elephants as a whole than two-taxon models assume. Results. We analysed hypervariable region 1 of the mitochondrial control region for 71 new central African forest elephants and the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene from 28 new samples and compare these sequences to other African elephant data. We find that central African forest elephant populations fall into at least two lineages and that west African elephants (both forest and savannah) share their mitochondrial history almost exclusively with central African forest elephants. We also find that central African forest populations show lower genetic diversity than those in savannahs, and infer a recent population expansion. Conclusion. Our data do not support the separation of African elephants into two evolutionary lineages. The demographic history of African elephants seems more complex, with a combination of multiple refugial mitochondrial lineages and recurrent hybridization among them rendering a simple forest/savannah elephant split inapplicable to modern African elephant populations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2148
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 10:15

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