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Stephen L. Clifford, Centre International de Recherches Médicales Franceville (CIRMF), BP 769 Franceville, Gabon,
Kate A. Abernethy, Department of Molecular and Biological Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, U.K.,
Lee J. T. White, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460, U.S.A.,
Caroline E. G. Tutin, Centre International de Recherches Médicales Franceville (CIRMF), BP 769 Franceville, Gabon,
Mike W. Bruford, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF1 3TL, U.K.,
E. Jean Wickings, Centre International de Recherches Médicales Franceville (CIRMF), BP 769 Franceville, Gabon
The science of systematics is used to establish evolutionary relationships among species and until the 1960s was based almost entirely on morphological data (Moritz, 1995). The morphological evidence for separating the gorilla into the three subspecies currently recognized, Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorilla), Gorilla gorilla graueri (eastern lowland gorilla), and Gorilla gorilla beringei (mountain gorilla), was compiled in the 1960s and recognizes significant differences in cranial and postcranial features (Schaller, 1963; Groves, 1970; Groves and Stott, 1979). At the present time, these three subspecies have distinct geographical distributions, with the western subspecies separated from the eastern and mountain subspecies by more than 1000 km. The western lowland gorilla is found in Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Congo and the Central African Republic (Lee et al., 1988). Groves (1967) proposed four “demes” within the western lowland gorilla range based on clinal variations in skull size. These roughly correspond to: (1) gorillas from the valley of the Sangha River in Central African Republic, Cameroon, and northern Congo, (2) gorillas from Nigeria, (3) gorillas from the southern Cameroon including populations from Dja, and (4) gorillas from coastal and central Gabon and southern Congo. Fig. 10.1 illustrates the current distribution of gorilla populations. More recently Oates et al. (1999) have suggested that gorilla populations north of the Sanaga River are morphologically distinct, in accordance to Groves's observations.
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