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Title: Patterns of subspecies diversity in the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis (L. 1758) : comparison of systematic methods and their implications for conservation policy
Author: Seymour, Russell
ISNI:       0000 0001 3394 9229
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis examines the subspecific taxonomic status of the giraffe and considers the role of formal taxonomy in the formulation of conservation policy. Where species show consistent. geographically structured phenotypic variation such geographic patterns may indicate selective forces (or other population-level effects) acting. upon local populations. These consistent geographic patterns may be recognised formally as subspecies and may be of interest in single or multi-species biodiversity or biogeography studies for delimiting areas of conservation priority. Subspecies may also be used in the formulation of management policies and legislation. Subspecies are, by definition, allopatric. This thesis explicitly uses methodology of systematic biology and phylogenetic reconstruction to investigate patterns of variation between geographic groups. The taxonomic status of the giraffe is apposite for review. The species provides three independent data sets that may be analysed quantitatively for geographic structure; pelage patterns, morphology and genetics. Museum specimens. grouped according to geographic origin, were favoured for study as more than one type of data was often available for an individual. Population aggregation analysis of forty pelage pattern characters maintained six separate subspecies, while agglomerating some neighbouring populations into a subspecies. A 'traditional' morphometric approach, using multivariate statistical analysis of adult skull measurements, was complemented by a geometric morphometric approach; landmarkrestricted eigenshape analysis. Four morphologically distinct groups were recognised by both morphological analyses. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA control region sequences indicates five major cIades. Nested cIade analysis identifies population fragmentation, range expansion and genetic isolation by distance as contributing to the genetic structure of the giraffe. The results of the analyses show remarkable congruence. These results are discussed in terms of the formulation of conservation policy and the differing requirements of'blological and legal classification systems. The value of a formal taxonomic framework to the recognition, and subsequent conservation, of biodiversity is emphasised.
Supervisor: Leader-Williams, N. ; Bruford, M. ; MacLeod, N. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: QL Zoology