Multigenic and morphometric differentiation of ground squirrels (Spermophilus, Scuiridae, Rodentia) in Turkey, with a description of a new species

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This study reports on the molecular phylogenetics of ground squirrels, genus Spermophilus, in Turkey using cytochrome b (1140 bp), part of the D-loop and flanking tRNAs (572 bp), X chromosome (867-1051 bp) and Y chromosome (983-989 bp) DNA sequences. Individuals also were characterized by karyotype and with geometric morphometric analyses of mandibles and skulls. Two hundred fourteen individuals from 91 localities were studied. All the data support the recognition of a new species in SW Anatolia: the Taurus ground squirrel Spermophilus taurensis sp. nov. The new species has a small distribution in the Taurus Mountains in an area that is a hotspot for biodiversity. Molecular clock analysis suggests that the new species diverged from the European ground squirrel, Spermophilus citellus, about 2.5 million years ago and that the ancestor of these two species diverged from the widespread Anatolian ground squirrel, Spermophilus xanthoprymnus, about 5 million years ago. Morphometric differentiation in skull and mandible shape among the three species is incomplete, but statistically significant. S. xanthoprymnus is subdivided into five cytochrome b phylogroups and we use these data to infer the location of glacial refugia where the species lived during the last glacial maximum. This study illustrates the potential of combined molecular and morphometric studies to uncover new Anatolian species and to reconstruct their phylogeographic history. The new species is important for squirrel taxonomy and for understanding Eurasian mammal evolution.


  • Islam Gunduz
  • Maarit Jaarola
  • Coskun Tez
  • Can Yeniyurt
  • P. David Polly
  • Jeremy B. Searle
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Biologiska vetenskaper


Sidor (från-till)916-935
TidskriftMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatusPublished - 2007
Peer review utfördJa