Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 16, 2022

Uncovering cryptic diversity does not end: a new species of leaf-eared mouse, genus Phyllotis (Rodentia, Cricetidae), from Central Sierras of Argentina

  • Pablo Teta EMAIL logo , Jorge Pablo Jayat , Scott J. Steppan , Agustina A. Ojeda , Pablo E. Ortiz , Agustina Novillo , Cecilia Lanzone and Ricardo A. Ojeda
From the journal Mammalia


Based on previously published molecular (mitochondrial) and herein provided morphological (qualitative and quantitative data) evidence, we describe a new species of leaf-eared mouse of the genus Phyllotis. The new species is morphometrically distinct when compared with other phylogenetically or geographically close species of Phyllotis, showing several quantitative differences in their external and craniodental characters (e.g., proportionally broader nasals and interorbital region, and proportionally smaller tympanic bullae). The new species is endemic to central Argentina, occurring on rocky grasslands at elevations of 650–2,800 m a.s.l. This is the only species of Phyllotis inhabiting the Central Sierras, a mountain system of medium elevation, isolated from the Andes by low elevation arid and semiarid environments.

Corresponding author: Pablo Teta, División Mastozoología, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia,” CP C1405DJR, Buenos Aires, Argentina, E-mail:


We are grateful to the following curators and collection managers for allowing us to review the specimens under their care: Robert Voss and Sydney Anderson (AMNH), Sue McLaren (CMNH), Ulyses F. J. Pardiñas (CNP), Benjamín Bender (CMI), Bill Stanley (FMNH), Angel Spotorno and Laura Walker (LCM), James L. Patton (MVZ), Janet K. Braun (SNOMNH), Guillermo D’Elía (UACH), and Freddy Mondaca (UACH), Phillip Myers (UMMZ), Michael D. Carleton and Richard Thorington (USNM), G. Jim Kenagy (UWBM). Beatriz Bixio and Matías Medina provided us with ethnohistorical information. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for the critical review. Fieldwork assistance in Córdoba province was provided by Rodrigo Gonzalez and Daniel García López.

  1. Author contributions: Pablo Teta and Scott J. Steppan reviewed the specimens housed at biological collections. P. Teta made the multivariate analysis and wrote, with J. Pablo Jayat, the first draft of this manuscript; J. P. Jayat, S. J. Steppan, Agustina A. Ojeda, Pablo E. Ortiz, Agustina Novillo, Cecilia Lanzone, and Ricardo A. Ojeda participated in the discussion of the results and the writing of the text. Figures were made by P. Teta, J. P. Jayat, and S. J. Steppan.

  2. Research funding: This work was possible thanks to the financial support of PIP CONICET (1122015 0100258 CO) to RAO and the Searle Fellowship, University of Chicago, and the Rowley Graduate Fellowship, FMNH, to S. J. Steppan. This work was also partialy supported by the American Society of Mammalogists via an “O. P. Pearson Award’’ (Pablo Teta). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest regarding this article.

  4. Research ethics: No institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved this research, as it did not involve live animals; no field collection was made. All assessed specimens were already available in museum collections.


Arana, M.D., Natale, E., Ferretti, N., Romano, G., Oggero, A., Martínez, G., Posadas, P., and Morrone, J.J. (2021). Esquema biogeográfico de la República Argentina. Opera Lilloana, Vol. 56. Fundación Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, Argentina, pp. 1–238.Search in Google Scholar

Bukowski, B., Lavinia, P.D., Trujillo Arias, N., Kopuchian, C., Tubaro, P., and Lijtmaer, D. (2017). First genetic assessment of the level of endemism in the avifauna of the Central Sierras in Southern South America. J. Avian Biol. 48: 726–737, in Google Scholar

Burgin, C.J., Colella, J.P., Kahn, P.L., and Upham, N.S. (2018). How many species of mammals are there? J. Mammal. 99: 1–14, in Google Scholar

Chébez, J.C. (2006). Guía de las reservas naturales de Argentina: Zona Centro. Editorial Albatros, Buenos Aires, Argentina.Search in Google Scholar

Cingolani, A., Poca, M., Giorgis, M.A., Vaieretti, M.V., Gurvich, D.E., Whitworth Hulse, J.I., and Renison, D. (2015). Water provisioning services in a seasonally dry subtropical mountain: identifying priority landscapes for conservation. J. Hydrol. 525: 178–187, in Google Scholar

Crespo, J.A. (1964). Descripción de una nueva subespecie de roedor filotino. Neotrópica 10: 99–101.Search in Google Scholar

D’Elía, G., Fabre, P.H., and Lessa, E.P. (2019). Rodent systematics in an age of discovery: recent advances and prospects. J. Mammal. 100: 852–871.10.1093/jmammal/gyy179Search in Google Scholar

de Queiroz, K. (2007). Species concepts and species delimitation. Syst. Biol. 56: 879–886, in Google Scholar PubMed

Giorgis, M., Cingolani, A., Teich, I., and Poca, M. (2020). Can livestock coexist with Polylepis australis forest in mountain central Argentina? Setting thresholds for a land sharing landscape. For. Ecol. Manag. 457: 117728, in Google Scholar

Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T., and Ryan, P.D. (2001). PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontol. Electron. 4: 1–9.Search in Google Scholar

Hershkovitz, P. (1962). Evolution of Neotropical cricetine rodents (Muridae) with special reference to the phyllotine group. Fieldiana Zool. 46: 1–524, in Google Scholar

Jayat, J.P., Ortiz, P.E., González, R., and D’Elía, G. (2016). Taxonomy of the Phyllotis osilae species group in Argentina; the status of the “Rata de los nogales” (Phyllotis nogalaris Thomas, 1921; Rodentia: Cricetidae). Zootaxa 4083: 397–417, in Google Scholar PubMed

Jayat, J.P., Ortiz, P.E., Pardiñas, U.F.J., D’ Elía, G., and Salazar-Bravo, J. (2010). The boliviensis group of Akodon (Rodentia: Cricetidae) in Northwestern Argentina: species limits, distribution and the description of a new species. Zootaxa 2409: 1–61, in Google Scholar

Jayat, J.P., Ortiz, P.E., Teta, P., Pardiñas, U.F.J., and D’Elía, G. (2006). Nuevas localidades argentinas para algunos roedores sigmodontinos (Rodentia: Cricetidae). Mastozool. Neotrop. 13: 51–67.Search in Google Scholar

Jayat, J.P., Teta, P., Ojeda, A.A., Steppan, S.J., Osland, J.M., Ortiz, P.E., Novillo, A., Lanzone, C., and Ojeda, R.A. (2021). The Phyllotis xanthopygus complex (Rodentia, Cricetidae) in Central Andes, systematics and description of a new species. Zool. Scripta 50: 689–706, in Google Scholar

Kuch, M., Rohland, N., Betancourt, J.L., Latorre, C., Steppan, S.J., and Poinar, H.N. (2002). Molecular analysis of a 11 700–year–old rodent midden from the Atacama Desert, Chile. Mol. Ecol. 11: 913–924, in Google Scholar PubMed

Labaroni, C.A., Malleret, M.M., Novillo, A., Ojeda, A., Rodriguez, D., Cuello, P., Ojeda, R., Martí, D., and Lanzone, C. (2014). Karyotypic variation in the Andean rodent Phyllotis xanthopygus (Waterhouse, 1837) (Rodentia, Cricetidae, Sigmodontinae). Comp. Cytogenet. 8: 369–381, in Google Scholar

Medina, M., De Santi, N.H., Rivero, D., Verzi, D.H., and Tonni, E.P. (2020). Fossorial rodents and applied zooarchaeology to ecosystem conservation in Sierras of Córdoba, Argentina. Austral Ecol. 46: 139–147, in Google Scholar

Montes, A. (1957). Nomenclador cordobense de toponimia autóctona: primera parte. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza.Search in Google Scholar

Ochoa, A.C., Gatica, A., Carrizo, M.C., Martínez Retta, L., Puegher, D.M., Kajin, M., and Mangione, A.M. (2021). Nuevos registros de mamíferos pequeños para el Parque Nacional Sierra de las Quijadas, San Luis, República Argentina. Notas Mam. Sud. 3: 2–12, in Google Scholar

Ojeda, A.A., Teta, P., Jayat, J.P., Lanzone, C., Cornejo, P., Novillo, A., and Ojeda, R.A. (2021). Phylogenetic relationships among cryptic species of the Phyllotis xanthopygus complex (Rodentia, Cricetidae). Zool. Scripta 50: 269–281, in Google Scholar

Olds, N. and Anderson, S. (1989). A diagnosis of the tribe Phyllotini (Rodentia, Muridae). In: Redford, K.H. and Eisenberg, J.F. (Eds.), Advances in neotropical mammalogy. Sandhill Crane Press, Gainesville, Florida, USA, pp. 55–74.Search in Google Scholar

Pacheco, V., Rengifo, E.M., and Vivas, D. (2014). Una nueva especie de ratón orejón del género Phyllotis Waterhouse, 1837 (Rodentia: Cricetidae) del norte del Perú. Therya 5: 481–508, in Google Scholar

Pardiñas, U.F.J., Myers, P., León-Paniagua, L., Ordóñez Garza, N., Cook, J., Kryštufek, B., Haslauer, R., Bradley, R., Shenbrot, G., and Patton, J.L. (2017). Family Cricetidae. In: Wilson, D.E., Mittermeier, R.A., and Lacher, T.E. (Eds.), Handbook of the mammals of the world. Volume 7, Rodents II. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, España.Search in Google Scholar

Pearson, O.P. (1958). A taxonomic revision of the rodent genus Phyllotis, Vol. 56. University of California, Publications in Zoology, California, USA, pp. 391–496.Search in Google Scholar

Polop, J.J. (1989). Distribution and ecological observationsecological observations of wild rodents in Pampa de Achala, Córdoba, Argentina. Stud. Neotrop. Fauna Environ. 24: 53–59, in Google Scholar

Polop, J.J., Martínez, R.L., and Torres, M.P. (1985). Distribución y abundancia de poblaciones de pequeños roedores en la zona del embalse de Río Tercero. Córdoba. Hist. Nat. 5: 33–44.Search in Google Scholar

Priotto, J.W., Morando, M., and Avila, L.J. (1996). Nuevas citas de roedores de los pastizales de altura de la Sierra de Comechingones, Córdoba, Argentina. Facena 12: 135–137.Search in Google Scholar

Rengifo, E.M. and Pacheco, V. (2015). Taxonomic revision of the Andean leaf–eared mouse, Phyllotis andium Thomas 1912 (Rodentia: Cricetidae), with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 4018: 349–380, in Google Scholar PubMed

Renison, D., Hensen, I., Suárez, R., Cingolani, A., Marcora, P., and Giorgis, M. (2010). Soil conservation in Polylepis mountain forests of Central Argentina: is livestock reducing our natural capital? Austral Ecol. 35: 435–443.10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.02055.xSearch in Google Scholar

Riverón, S. (2011). Estructura poblacional e historia demográfica del “pericote patagónico” Phyllotis xanthopygus (Rodentia: Sigmodontinae) en Patagonia Argentina, Ph.D. dissertation. Uruguay, Universidad de la República.Search in Google Scholar

Steppan, S.J. (1995). Revision of the tribe Phyllotini (Rodentia: Sigmodontinae), with a phylogenetic hypothesis for the Sigmodontinae. Fieldiana Zool. New Ser. 80: 1–112.Search in Google Scholar

Steppan, S.J. (1997). Phylogenetic analysis of phenotypic covariance structure. I. Contrasting results from matrix correlation and common principal component analysis. Evolution 51: 571–586, in Google Scholar PubMed

Steppan, S.J. (1998). Phylogenetic relationships and species limits within Phyllotis (Rodentia: Sigmodontinae): concordance between mtDNA sequence and morphology. J. Mammal. 7: 573–593, in Google Scholar

Steppan, S.J. and Ramírez, O. (2015). Genus Phyllotis Waterhouse, 1837. In: Patton, J.L., Pardiñas, U.F.J., and D’Elía, G. (Eds.), Mammals of South America. Volume 2: Rodents. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 535–555.Search in Google Scholar

Steppan, S.J., Ramirez, O., Banbury, J., Huchon, D., Pacheco, V., Walker, L.I., and Spotorno, A.E. (2007). A molecular reappraisal of the systematics of the leaf–eared mice Phyllotis and their relatives. In: Kelt, D.A., Lessa, E.P., Salazar-Bravo, J., and Patton, J.L. (Eds.), The quintessential naturalist: honoring the life and legacy of Oliver P. Pearson. University of California, Publications of Zoology, California, USA, pp. 799–826.Search in Google Scholar

Storz, J.F., Quiroga-Carmona, M., Opazo, J.C., Bowen, T., Farson, M., Steppan, S.J., and D’líaD’Elía, G. (2020). Discovery of the world’s highest-dwelling mammal. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 117: 18169–18171, in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

Teta, P., Argoitia, A., Barbero, S., Campo, D.H., d’Hiriart, S., Troyelli, A., Lucero, S., and Cassini, G. (2021). Mamíferos de Argentina: patrones, tendencias y perspectivas en la acumulación de conocimientos sistemáticos. Mastozool. Neotrop. 8: e0514.10.31687/saremMN. in Google Scholar

Teta, P., Jayat, J.P., Lanzone, C., Novillo, A., Ojeda, A., and Ojeda, R.A. (2018). Geographic variation in quantitative skull traits and systematics of southern populations of the leaf-eared mice of the Phyllotis xanthopygus complex (Cricetidae, Phyllotini) in southern South America. Zootaxa 4446: 68–80, in Google Scholar PubMed

Voss, R.S. (1988). Systematics and ecology of ichthyomyine rodents (Muroidea): patterns of morphological evolution in a small adaptative radiation. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2: 259–493.Search in Google Scholar

Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2021-08-31
Accepted: 2022-01-21
Published Online: 2022-03-16
Published in Print: 2022-07-26

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 6.6.2023 from
Scroll to top button