Paul Grobler, Kyla Hayter, Christiaan Labuschagne, Lizanne Nel and Riel Coetzer.
Mammalian Biology, 82 (2017)
The impala (Aepyceros melampus ssp.) is a widespread antelope species occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. The two recognized subspecies have non-overlapping distribution ranges, with no known natural mixture of these subspecies until human interference. A number of common impala individuals (A. m. melampus) displaying phenotypic characteristics commonly observed in the black-faced impala (A. m. petersi), namely black facial markings, were seen on a farm in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. This farm falls outside the natural distribution range of A. m. petersi. We therefore aimed to identify the taxonomic placement of these individuals (i.e. A. m. melampus or A. m. petersi) through phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses using D-loop and cytochrome subunit b sequence data. Our results showed that these black-nosed impala from Limpopo are in fact A. m. melampus individuals. The existence of the black-nose phenotype in common impala could be more widespread than previously estimated. The occurrence of introgression between the two subspecies in this region could, however, not be fully excluded, and can only be fully assessed through the use of nuclear DNA analysis.