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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 73, Issue 5, pp 358–370 | Cite as

Morphological evidence of species differentiation within Lepus capensis Linnaeus, 1758 (Leporidae, Lagomorpha) in Cape Province, South Africa

  • Fernando PalaciosEmail author
  • Chiara Angelone
  • Germain Alonso
  • Santiago Reig
Original Investigation

Abstract

A morphological study was carried out of the hares (Lepus) from Cape Province previously assigned to the subspecies L. capensis capensis, L. c. centralis, and L. c. grantii. The purpose of the study was to characterize the species L. capensis Linnaeus, 1758. In doing so, it was possible to distinguish two populations which we consider different species, as each shows homogeneous cranial, dental and pelage features. One of them, defined as L. capensis, is distributed near Cape Town not far from the coast, between Lambert’s Bay and Cape Agulhas. The other species, defined as L. centralis, which includes L. grantii as a synonym, is distributed in central and western Cape Province. L. capensis and L. centralis have a parapatric distribution, with a small area of sympatry in a contact zone in Compagnies Drift area, near Lambert’s Bay. With respect to cranial differences between the two species, L. capensis has a stronger maxilla and more robust dental series, while L. centralis has larger tympanic bullae. Among dental characters, L. centralis usually has a deeper groove and more abundant cement than L. capensis in the first upper incisor, and its internal lobe is squared, while in L. capensis is rounded. As for pelage color and pattern, L. capensis shows a more extended white ventral area than L. centralis. Our results are of interest for further research on taxonomic problems regarding Old World hare populations in which L. capensis is concerned.

Keywords

Lepus capensis L. centralis Taxonomy Syntypes Museum collections 

Morphologische Hinweise auf artliche Differenzierung innerhalb des Taxons Lepus capensis Linnaeus, 1758 (Leporidae, Lagomorpha) in der Kapprovinz Südafrikas

Zusammenfassung

Die Hasen (Lepus) der Kap-Provinz, die bisher den Unterarten L. capensis capensis, L. c. centralis und L. c. grantii zugerechnet werden, wurden morphologisch untersucht. Das Ziel der Studie war, die Art L. capensis Linnaeus, 1758 näher zu charakterisieren. Dabei konnten zwei distinkte Populationen unterschieden werden, die wir als verschiedene Arten ansehen, da innerhalb beider Populationen homogene Schädel-, Zahn- und Fellmerkmale existieren. Die eine Art, die wir als L. capensis definieren, kommt bei Kapstadt in Küstennähe, zwischen Lambert’s Bay und Cape Agulhas, vor. Die andere Art, die wir als L. centralis definieren (mit grantii als Synonym), ist in der zentralen und westlichen Kap-Provinz verbreitet. L. capensis und L. centralis sind parapatrisch verbreitet mit einem kleinen Sympatrie-Areal in der Kontaktzone im Compagnies Drift Gebiet nahe Lambert’s Bay. Differenzen im Schädelbau beider Arten sind bei L. capensis durch eine kräftigere Maxilla und robustere Zahnreihen gegeben, während L. centralis größere Ohrblasen aufweist. Der erste obere Schneidezahn von L. centralis ist in der Regel tiefer gefurcht und hat mehr Zement als bei L. capensis, auch ist der innere Lobus bei der erstgenannten Art quadratisch und bei L. capensis abgerundet. In der Fellfärbung ist L. capensis durch ein ausgedehnteres weißes Bauchfell von L. centralis unterschieden. Unsere Resultate sind relevant für alle weiteren taxonomischen Untersuchungen an Hasen der Alten Welt, sofern Populationen von L. capensis betroffen sind.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Palacios
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chiara Angelone
    • 1
    • 2
  • Germain Alonso
    • 3
  • Santiago Reig
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze GeologicheUniversitá Roma TreRomeItaly
  3. 3.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad Complutense, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasMadridSpain
  4. 4.Unidad de Medicina Experimental Laboratorio de ImagenHospital General Universitario Gregorio MarañónMadridSpain

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