International Journal of Primatology

, 29:1313

Evolutionary Acceleration and Divergence in Procolobus kirkii


DOI: 10.1007/s10764-008-9306-1

Cite this article as:
Nowak, K., Cardini, A. & Elton, S. Int J Primatol (2008) 29: 1313. doi:10.1007/s10764-008-9306-1


We investigated the role of geographical insularity in divergence and speciation of Procolobus kirkii by examining cranial morphology. The sample (n = 369) included museum specimens of Procolobus spp. and recently deceased individuals of P. kirkii from the main island of Zanzibar and 2 smaller islands in the archipelago. Geometric morphometrics evinced pronounced divergence of Procolobus kirkii from mainland Procolobus, including members of P. badius ssp., P. pennantii ssp., P. rufomitratus, P. gordonorum and also representatives of the assemblage of red colobus populations from Central Equatorial Africa. Procolobus kirkii has a small cranium, consistent with the island rule for large mammals, reduced sexual dimorphism consistent with Rensch’s rule, and a distinct cranial form. Analyses of phenotypic variance of Procolobus kirkii gave no evidence for population bottlenecks in the history of the species, but there is a clear indication that the species has experienced accelerated morphological evolution of size, probably as a result of insularity. Their highly distinctive morphology lends weight to the argument that they are a unique insular endemic species in need of active conservation.


endemismgeometric morphometricsisland ruleProcolobustaxonomy

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU)University of OxfordAbingdonUK
  2. 2.Museo di Paleobiologia e dell’Orto BotanicoUniversitá di Modena e Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  3. 3.Hull York Medical SchoolThe University of HullHullUK