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A conservative approach for species delimitation based on multi-locus DNA sequences: a case study of the genus Giraffa (Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla)

Molecular data are now commonly used in taxonomy for delimiting cryptic species. In the case of giraffes, which were treated as a single species (Giraffa camelopardalis) during half of a century, several molecular studies have suggested a splitting into four to seven species, but the criteria applied for taxonomic delimitation were not fully described. In this study, we have analysed all multi-locus DNA sequences available for giraffes using multispecies coalescent (MSC: *BEAST, BPP and STACEY), population genetic (STRUCTURE, allelic networks,

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More grist for the mill? Species delimitation in the genomic era and its implications for conservation

Species delimitation is one of the most contested areas in modern biology, with widespread disagreement about almost every aspect of the definition and implementation of the “species” label. While this debate is intellectually stimulating, it also has real implications for conservation, where its impacts on taxonomic inflation or inertia can mean that specific populations receive adequate conservation measures or are ignored. Recently, the rise of next generation sequencing and phylogenomics has revolutionised phylogenetic understanding of many organismal groups but has

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Species assignment and conservation genetics of giraffe in the Republic of Malawi

Historically, giraffe have been translocated across Africa to supplement extant populations, reintroduce extinct populations or to establish new populations, often for conservation and tourism. Such faunal relocations were often carried out disregarding taxonomic affiliation. Today, the small giraffe populations in the Republic of Malawi are assumed to consist of South African giraffe (Giraffa giraffa giraffa), which have likely descended from five individuals translocated from Imire Game Park (Zimbabwe) to Nyala Game Park (Malawi) in 1993. However, during the last 25

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Limited introgression supports division of giraffe into four species

All giraffe (Giraffa) were previously assigned to a single species (G. camelopardalis) and nine subspecies. However, multi-locus analyses of all subspecies have shown that there are four genetically distinct clades and suggest four giraffe species. This conclusion might not be fully accepted due to limited data and lack of explicit gene flow analyses. Here, we present an extended study based on 21 independent nuclear loci from 137 individuals. Explicit gene flow analyses identify less than one migrant per generation, including

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