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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Complex phylogeographic history of central African forest elephants and its implications for taxonomy
Author(s): Johnson, Mireille
Clifford, Stephen L
Goossens, Benoit
Nyakaana, Silvester
Curran, Bryan
White, Lee
Wickings, E Jean
Bruford, Michael W
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Issue Date: Dec-2007
Citation: Johnson M, Clifford SL, Goossens B, Nyakaana S, Curran B, White L, Wickings EJ & Bruford MW (2007) Complex phylogeographic history of central African forest elephants and its implications for taxonomy, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 7 (1), Art. No.: 244.
Abstract: 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.
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Rights: © 2007 Johnson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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