Brown lemurs are among the "true" lemurs (Eulemur; Simons and Rumpler, 1988). Their clear evolutionary divergence from other taxa in this group is evidenced by frequent sympatry with the other species in the genus (E. coronatus, E. macaco, E. mongoz, and E. rubriventer; Mittermeier et al., 1994; Overdorff and Johnson, 2003), although some hybridization has been noted in the wild (Eulemur fulvus fulvusx Eulemur mongoz; Pastorini et al., 2001). Traditionally, brown lemurs have been classified as a single species (Eulemur fulvus), with up to seven subspecies: the common brown lemur (E. f. fulvus), Sanford's lemur

(E. f. sanfordi), the white-fronted lemur (E. f. albifrons), the red-fronted or rufous lemur (E. f. rufus), the Mayotte lemur (E. f. mayottensis), the collared lemur (E. f. collaris), and the white-collared lemur (E. f. albocollaris) (Tattersall, 1982). However, E. f. mayottensis likely represents a recently transplanted population of E. f. fulvus and should be subsumed in the latter subspecies (Hamilton et al., 1980; Pastorini et al., 2000).

Recent research indicates that collared and white-collared lemurs warrant full species status (Djlelati et al., 1997; Wyner et al., 1999; but see Pastorini et al., 2000; see below). I refer herein to E. albocollaris and E. collaris by their binomial, species-level designations (cf. Djlelati et al., 1997), while other brown lemur taxa are retained as subspecies of E. fulvus. However, to emphasize the close relationships of the taxa within this group, I refer to E. fulvus, E. albocollaris, and E. collaris collectively as "brown lemurs."

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