Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 1–2, pp 55–60 | Cite as

On the Nature and Significance of Variability in Lions (Panthera leo)

  • Bruce D. Patterson
General Interest Essay


Although the lion is one of nature’s best-known species, much remains to be learned about its variability. Recently documented variation in genetics, morphology, ecology and behavior help to explain its adaptability and illustrate the inter-dependencies of biological responses at different organizational scales.


Adaptability Behavior Developmental effects Ecology Environment Geographic variation Africa Asia 



I am grateful to S.M. Kasiki, R.W. Kays, A. Mwazo, and J.M. Dubach for their many contributions to my thinking on lions, as well as hundreds of Earthwatch volunteers for their time and energy in helping me to study them. Edward Hobson and Chryssee Martin recognized and documented the natural experiment presented in Fig. 1, with the help of Festus Kioko, and Bennet Bronson and Karen Wilson produced the image for Fig. 3. Research behind this review has been supported by the Field Museum, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Earthwatch Institute (#5123) and the National Geographic Society (#7208–02).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyField Museum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA

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