Conservation Genetics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 243–248

Differentiation at mitochondrial and nuclear loci between the blesbok (Damaliscus pygargusphillipsi) and bontebok (D. p.pygargus): implications for conservation strategy

  • Joelle van der Walt
  • Louis H. Nel
  • A. Rus Hoelzel
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-012-0435-x

Cite this article as:
van der Walt, J., Nel, L.H. & Rus Hoelzel, A. Conserv Genet (2013) 14: 243. doi:10.1007/s10592-012-0435-x


Damaliscus pygargus is an endemic species in South Africa belonging to the contemporary antelope tribe Alcelaphine. The species has been subdivided into two subspecies based upon phenotypic differences and historical geographic isolation. We found D. p. pygargus (bontebok) and D. p. phillipsi (blesbok) to be significantly differentiated based on microsatellite and mtDNA control region markers. Bontebok genetic diversity was depauperate with just one mtDNA haplotype, not found in blesbok populations, and reduced heterozygosity and polymorphism at microsatellite DNA loci compared to the blesbok. Erosion of molecular genetic variation in bontebok may have been due to anthropogenic impact causing isolation and reduced population size. Our data based on 34 bontebok and 42 blesbok indicate that the classification of alpha taxonomy should be reconsidered in this genus (in support of earlier similar suggestions), and that careful management should seek to avoid hybridization and retain the remaining diversity in the bontebok.


Alpha taxonomyPopulation bottleneckAfrican ungulatePopulation genetics

Supplementary material

10592_2012_435_MOESM1_ESM.docx (167 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 166 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joelle van der Walt
    • 1
  • Louis H. Nel
    • 1
  • A. Rus Hoelzel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Plant PathologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.School of Biological and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK