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Volume 82, Issue 4


Phylogeography of a widespread sub-Saharan murid rodent Aethomys chrysophilus: the role of geographic barriers and paleoclimate in the Zambezian bioregion

Vladimír Mazoch
  • Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Květná 8, Brno 60365, Czech Republic
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/ Ondřej Mikula
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Květná 8, Brno 60365, Czech Republic
  • Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
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/ Josef Bryja
  • Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Květná 8, Brno 60365, Czech Republic
  • Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
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/ Hana Konvičková
  • Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Květná 8, Brno 60365, Czech Republic
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/ Isa-Rita Russo
  • Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, UK
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/ Erik Verheyen
  • Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Operational Direction Taxonomy and Phylogeny, 1000, Brussels, Belgium
  • Evolutionary Ecology Group, Biology Department, University of Antwerp, 2020, Antwerp, Belgium
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/ Radim Šumbera
  • Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Published Online: 2017-10-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2017-0001


Murid rodents of the genus Aethomys are one of the most common rodents in drier habitats in sub-Saharan Africa. Among them, the red veld rat Aethomys chrysophilus is the most widespread species with the core distribution located in the Zambezian bioregion. In this study, we describe phylogeographic structure of the species and estimate its age from a time-calibrated phylogeny of the genus. Seven parapatric clades were identified in the mitochondrial cytochrome b phylogeny, where some of the distributions of these clades have been separated by previously described biogeographical divides (Zambezi-Kafue river system, Rukwa Rift and the Eastern Arc Mountains). One internal clade corresponded to populations previously described as a distinct species, Aethomys ineptus. The whole A. chrysophilus complex was estimated to be 1.3 (0.5–2.4) Mya old, with A. ineptus originating 0.7 (0.1–1.4) Mya before present. The internal position of A. ineptus was also recovered in phylogenetic reconstruction based on two nuclear genes and thus it is not a consequence of mitochondrial introgression. In addition, we analyzed skull form variation across the species’ distributional range and found no significant difference between A. ineptus and the rest of A. chrysophilus complex.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: Aethomys chrysophilus; Aethomys ineptus; phylogeography; Plio-Pleistocene climate changes; Zambezian bioregion


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About the article

aVladimír Mazoch and Ondřej Mikula: These authors contributed equally to this article.

Received: 2017-01-07

Accepted: 2017-06-28

Published Online: 2017-10-12

Published in Print: 2018-07-26

Citation Information: Mammalia, Volume 82, Issue 4, Pages 373–387, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2017-0001.

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Mammalian Biology, 2018

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