, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 15-24

Molecular genetic variation across the southern and eastern geographic ranges of the African lion, Panthera leo

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We examined sequence variation in the mitochondrial cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 5 genes (2,360 bp total) for 26 lions from eleven locations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Six distinct haplotypes were observed in the combined sequences, forming two clades: the eastern and the western savannas. The Uganda-Western Kenya haplotype grouped at a basal position with the eastern clade of lions from Tsavo south to the Transvaal and Natal regions. The phylogenetic position of the haplotype from Sabi Sands in the southern part of Kruger National Park remained poorly resolved. The haplotypes found in Namibia and Botswana formed the western clade. The modest genetic variation documented here argues against taxonomic distinctions among living African lions.