Giraffe taxonomy, geographic distribution and conservation

The conservation implications of taxonomic pedigrees and geographic distributions are substantial because the two entities are inseparable when the goal is saving bio- diversity and ecosystems. Yet, neither Latin nomenclature nor animal movement patterns are static over time because modifications result as more data are collected. Scientists have recently reassessed both the taxonomy and geographic range of giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis. Evidence has been presented that giraffes ought to be classified into anywhere from one to nine species, and that their continent-wide ranging area has compressed by about 6%. A systematic, comprehensive, and critical evaluation of the literature supports the suggestion that the conventional taxonomy of giraffes is due for an overhaul, but serious doubts exist regarding the inference that their geographic range in Africa has altered in the last few years. Sharing competing viewpoints about taxonomy and geographic ranges in the academic literature can be productive, but becomes counter-productive, and detrimental to conservation management plans and programmes, when scientists prematurely proclaim and pro- mote questionable ‘new’ findings.

Last Updated
February 18, 2021
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