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Russian Journal of Theriology

Taxonomic status of the leopard, Panthera pardus (Carnivora, Felidae) in the Caucasus and adjacent areas // Russian J. Theriol. Vol.5. No.1: 4152 [in English].

ABSTRACT. Nine subspecies names have been designated for the leopard in the Middle East: Arabian or South Arabian Panthera pardus nimr (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833); Anatolian or Asia Minor P. p. tulliana (Valenciennes, 1856); Caucasian P. p. ciscaucasica (Satunin, 1914); Persian or North Persian P. p. saxicolor Pocock, 1927; Sind or Baluchistan P. p. sindica Pocock, 1930; Kashmir P. p. millardi Pocock, 1930; Sinai P. p. jarvisi Pocock, 1932; Central Persian P. p. dathei Zukowsky, 1959 and South Caucasian P. p. transcaucasica Zukowsky, 1964. We have measured or retrieved data from literature on 24 characters and 3 indices of 40 leopard skulls originated from this region. We used multiple discriminant analysis to separate 7 groups from North Caucasus, South Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Arabia with over 90% probabilities of correct group membership. Five scenarios of grouping were obtained which have shown the identity of the leopards from the Caucasus and Turkmenistan and their possible identity with individuals from northern Iran, closeness of leopards from southern Iran and Pakistan and from Turkey and Sinai Peninsula, and clear distinctiveness of the leopards from Arabia and Turkey from all other groups. In compliance with criteria of priority in zoological nomenclature, we suggest to retain the names P. p. ciscaucasica (=saxicolor, transcaucasica) for the Caucasus, Turkmenistan and northern Iran, P. p. tulliana for south-western Turkey, P. p. sindica (=dathei) for southern Iran and southern Pakistan and P. p. nimr for Arabian Peninsula. The subspecies P. p. millardi is probably synonymous to P. p. sindica and its status should be clarified on additional data. The taxonomic position of P. p. jarvisi should be verified by comparison with nominotypical P. p. pardus from Egypt. KEY WORDS: leopard, Panthera pardus, geographic variability, taxonomy, Caucasus, conservation.