International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 830–848 | Cite as

Taxonomic Implications of a Field Study of Morphotypes of Hanuman Langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) in Peninsular India

  • K. S. Chetan Nag
  • P. Pramod
  • K. Praveen KaranthEmail author


The Hanuman langur is one of the most widely distributed and morphologically variable non-human primates in South Asia. Even though it has been extensively studied, the taxonomic status of this species remains unresolved due to incongruence between various classification schemes. This incongruence, we believe, is largely due to the use of plastic morphological characters such as coat color in classification. Additionally these classification schemes were largely based on reanalysis of the same set of museum specimens. To bring greater resolution in Hanuman langur taxonomy we undertook a field survey to study variation in external morphological characters among Hanuman langurs. The primary objective of this study is to ascertain the number of morphologically recognizable units (morphotypes) of Hanuman langur in peninsular India and to compare our field observations with published classification schemes. We typed five color-independent characters for multiple adults from various populations in South India. We used the presence-absence matrix of these characters to derive the pair-wise distance between individuals and used this to construct a neighbor-joining (NJ) tree. The resulting NJ tree retrieved six distinct clusters, which we assigned to different morphotypes. These morphotypes can be identified in the field by using a combination of five diagnostic characters. We determined the approximate distributions of these morphotypes by plotting the sampling locations of each morphotype on a map using GIS software. Our field observations are largely concordant with some of the earliest classification schemes, but are incongruent with recent classification schemes. Based on these results we recommend Hill (Ceylon Journal of Science, Colombo 21:277-305, 1939) and Pocock (Primates and carnivora (in part) (pp. 97–163). London: Taylor and Francis, 1939) classification schemes for future studies on Hanuman langurs.


Classification schemes Colobines Morphological characters Subspecies 



The study was financially supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (BT/PR-7127/BCE/08/445/2006) and Ministry of Environment and Forest. We thank the forest departments of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh Forest for permissions and cooperation. We thank M. S. Chaitra, S. P. Vijayakumar, K.V.Gururaja, P. O. Nameer, K. A. Subramanian, V. V. Sivan , L. M. Bhat, H. N. Kumara, Ullasa Kodandaramiah, Sheshagiri Rao, Harish Bhat, Manjunath Shetty, Soumya Prasad, Sanjay Molur, Anjana Shenoy, Anantha Krishna Sharma, Laurens Verwijs, Martin Zaruba, Hanka Svobodova, Srinivas Udupa, Atul Joshi, Yeshwanth Mahale, Jayant Mahale, Rishikesh Desai, Kiran Rahalkar, Sridhar Gadiyar, Shobha Varadaraj, Rajashekar Hippargi, Nitin Sawanth, Vishnupriya Kolipakkam, Achyuthan, Karthick, Suresh, Hari, and Krishnamani for their valuable support. Sudheera and Avinash helped us with drawing the maps. We also thank Gopal Unnikrishnan Kurup, Ravi Chellam, Anindya Sinha, Ajith Kumar, Mewa Singh, Niranjan V. Joshi, members of Karanth laboratory, and the reviewers for their constructive comments. We would also like to thank Rohini Balakrishnan, R. Sukumar, T.V. Ramachandra, Kusuma R Goli, Pilikula biological park and Bombay Natural History Society for their help and assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. S. Chetan Nag
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Pramod
    • 2
  • K. Praveen Karanth
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Ecological SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural HistoryCoimbatoreIndia

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