Taxonomic and biogeographical status of guanaco Lama guanicoe (Artiodactyla, Camelidae)
MetadataShow full item record
1. We review the status of the four currently recognized guanaco Lama guanicoe subspecies, and provide information about their taxonomy and distribution. The success of guanaco in inhabiting open habitats of South America is based mainly on the flexibility of their social behaviour and ecophysiological adaptations to harsh environments. 2. Lonnberg described the first subspecies, L. g. cacsilensis, at the beginning of the 20th century. Forty years later Krumbiegel described L. g. voglii, based on skull measurements and pelage colouration. The other two subspecies, L. g. huanacus and L. g. guanicoe, were classified as subspecies by Krumbiegel based on pelage colouration and body size, while maintaining the original Latin names and descriptors. 3. Further guanaco populations have been incorporated into each of these subspecies, based on their proximity to the type locality but without attention to the homogeneity of phenotype or habitat and only limited consideration of Bergmann's rule based on scarce skulls. Two alternative geographical ranges were proposed in the middle and towards the end of the 20th century. Discrepancies occur in the geographical range of each subspecies. 4. Molecular studies based on mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequences recognized only two subspecies: the Peruvian L. guanicoe cacsilensis and the rest of the populations grouped in the clade recognized as L. g. guanicoe. We conclude that the evolutionary biology of L. guanicoe requires a significant revision with respect to biogeography. Phylogeographical data hold particular value in developing conservation strategies, particularly for some of the reduced and marginal populations and/or subspecies and will support IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Red List classification.