Saturday, February 3, 2018

[Mammalogy • 2017] On the Taxonomy of Erythrocebus with A Re-evaluation of Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862) from the Blue Nile Region of Sudan and Ethiopia

Erythrocebus poliophaeus  (Reichenbach, 1862) 
in Gippoliti, 2017.

 Primate Conservation. 31; 53-59. 

 Erythrocebus taxonomy has been dormant for almost a century now, with the consequent costs in our understanding of the biology of the genus and for the conservation of these remarkable monkeys. New data on the distribution and physical appearance of patas monkeys in Ethiopia, together with a review of the old taxonomic literature, allows to us disentangle some questions concerning the taxonomy of Erythrocebus in northeast Africa. Specifically, I resurrect Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862) as a valid species that is found along the Blue Nile Valley at the extreme northeastern portion of the range of the genus. The still little-known, but certainly limited, extent of the range of the species is a cause for conservation concern, but it may be that Erythrocebus poliophaeus could serve as a flagship species for conservation in the biologically rich Western Ethiopian Escarpment region and adjoining Sudan. The proposed common English names for the new species are Heuglin’s patas monkey (Heuglin was the famous German explorer who discovered it) or the Blue Nile patas monkey.

Keywords: Benshangul Gumuz State, Ethiopia, Sudan, Primates, Cercopithecidae, patas monkey, taxonomy

Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862) 
Illustration: Stephen Nash 

Figure 3. Adult male Erythrocebus poliophaeus, Beijing Zoo.
Courtesy of Jonas Livet.

Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862)
Heuglin’s or Blue Nile patas monkey

 Syn. Cercopithecus poliophaeus Reichenbach, 1862 
Cercopithecus poliolophus Heuglin, 1877, renaming of poliophaeus 
Erythrocebus albigenus Elliot, 1909


As anticipated by Allen (1925), some of the named forms of Erythrocebus could be valid taxa if more evidence came to light. The main aim of the article was to revive interest in the topic and highlight some conservation priorities in East Africa. A species first described over 150 years ago is re-evaluated; it is known from the Blue Nile basin in western Ethiopia and adjoining Sudan, and separated from another Erythrocebus taxon by the Sudd swampy region in Sudan and the Ethiopian highlands, which stretch up to the Sudanese border north of Gambela. It is an obvious focus for further research and conservation. Monkeys of the genus Erythrocebus are potential flagships for important African ecosystems, and may well be at greater risk than is generally believed. 

The western Ethiopian escarpment flora has received due scientific attention only in this century, and a number of new endemic species have been discovered in Benshangul Gumuz in recent years (Sebsebe Demissew et al. 2005). A revised taxonomy of the genus Erythrocebus is also fundamental to analyze the available data concerning the natural history and biology of the different taxa. With the recognition of the Heuglin or Blue Nile patas monkeys Erythrocebus poliophaeus we have now two taxa with a black face and nose (at least in the adult male)—the other being Erythrocebus baumstarki— at the fringe of the genus’s range in East Africa, and possibly representing ancient surviving lineages that have been supplanted by a white-nosed species elsewhere in East Africa that is provisionally referred as Erythrocebus pyrrhonotus, with E. p. formosus and a number of other subspecies occurring over its range

Spartaco Gippoliti. 2017. On the Taxonomy of Erythrocebus with a Re-evaluation of Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862) from the Blue Nile Region of Sudan and Ethiopia. Primate Conservation. 31; 53-59.

BBC News - Moustached monkey is separate species

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