, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 915-941

Distribution and Geographic Variation in the Western Woolly Lemur (Avahi occidentalis) with Description of a New Species (A. unicolor

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The western woolly lemur is distributed through central western, northwestern and possibly northern Madagascar and is traditionally viewed as a monotypic species (Avahi occidentalis) or as a subspecies of A. laniger. We present new data on body weights of Avahi which, together with previously available body weights, provide additional evidence for recognizing eastern and western woolly lemurs as two distinct species. We then reexamine the distributions of, and chromatic variation within and between, populations of western woolly lemurs. A comparative study of wild subjects and museum skins reveals that several geographically discrete morphs exist in western Avahi, which is clearly polytypic. Marked differences between populations in fur coloration suggest that ≥3 distinct taxa should be recognized. The populations differ considerably in their habitat structure. In addition, field observations suggest clear differences in population density between ≥2 of the populations. We describe and name one new species.