Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 12, 2016

Phylogenetic position of a monotypic Ethiopian endemic rodent genus Megadendromus (Rodentia, Nesomyidae)

Leonid A. Lavrenchenko, Rena S. Nadjafova, Afework Bekele, Tatiana A. Mironova and Josef Bryja
From the journal Mammalia


The taxonomic and phylogenetic position of the Nikolaus’s African climbing mouse (Megadendromus nikolausi), formerly known only from four specimens, remained for a long time ambiguous. Here, we report, for the first time, the phylogenetic analysis of this species using mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear (interphotoreceptor binding protein) gene sequences obtained from a new specimen recently caught in the Bale Mountains in south-eastern Ethiopia. Our analyses strongly suggest that the Nikolaus’s climbing mouse does not belong to a distinct monotypic genus, but to the genus Dendromus. The first karyotype description of this enigmatic Ethiopian endemic is presented. The diploid set comprises 18 pairs of bi-armed chromosomes, 2N=36, one of the lowest diploid numbers reported for the genus Dendromus (2N=30–52). Moreover, the phylogenetic analysis reveals that another very distinctive Ethiopian endemic, Dendromus lovati, sometimes placed in a subgenus Chortomys, occupies an internal position within Dendromus s.s. The results suggest that the Ethiopian Plateau is an important center of high diversity and adaptive radiation for the genus Dendromus. The conservation status of M. nikolausi is assessed.

Corresponding author: Leonid A. Lavrenchenko, A.N.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii pr. 33, Moscow 119081, Russia, e-mail:


We are indebted to the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) for the permission to work in the Bale Mountains National Park (permission no. EWCA Ref. No. 31/336/05; 20/03/2013). We thank the warden and staff of the Bale Mountains National Park for the use of the Park buildings and equipment. We are grateful to the JERBE Coordinators Dr. Andrei Darkov (Joint Ethio-Russian Biological Expedition, Fourth Phase – JERBE-IV) and Ato Girma Yosef (Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology) for management of the expedition in the field and in Addis Ababa. We also thank Tatiana Aghová and Anna Bryjová for help with genotyping. Financial support for the research was provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 15-04-03801-a (to LL, RN and TM) and the Czech Science Foundation, project no. 14-36098G (to JB).


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Supplemental Material

The online version of this article (DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2015-0148) offers supplementary material, available to authorized users.

Received: 2015-8-22
Accepted: 2015-12-11
Published Online: 2016-2-12
Published in Print: 2017-1-1

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