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Karyotype, genetic and morphological variability in North China zokor, Myospalax psilurus (Rodentia, Spalacidae, Myospalacinae)
Puzachenko A. Yu., Pavlenko M. V., Korablev V. P., Tsvirka M. V.
P. 27-46
Both genetic and morphometric methods have been applied for studying of differentiation in North China zokor, Myospalax psilurus, which includes zokors from Russian Far East (Primorsky Krai), North China, Eastern Mongolia and Russian Transbaikalia (Zabaykalsky Krai). There are two subspecies of North China zokor which were described earlier: M. p. psilurus and M. p. epsilanus. The taxonomic statuses of these forms are debated. The diploid number of chromosomes in tested zokors was 64, but there were notable differences in the karyotype structures from Zabaykalsky Krai (‘epsilanus’: 9-12 M-SM, 10-13 ST, 8-9 A:) and from Primorsky Krai (‘psilurus’: 9 M-SM, 13-14 ST, 8-9 A). These populations are clearly differed by spectra of blood serum proteins (transferrins): all samples from Primorsky Krai were found to be monomorphic by TF-B, while the samples from Zabaykalsky Krai possessed TF-C only. Marginal populations from Zabaykalsky Krai and Primorsky Krai have significant differences according to RAPD-PCR results of the study. That allows estimating these differences as corresponding to interspecies level. Genetic distance between them is high and it may be compared with the distance between another zokor species, M. aspalax and M. armandii (Pavlenko & Korablev, 2003a; Puzachenko et al., 2009; Tsvirka et al., 2011). A similar pattern of differentiation is detected by sequencing of mitochondrial markers: hypervariable region D-loop and cytochrome b (Tsvirka et al, 2009a).
The main morphological differences within the North China zokor were found out in hard palate features (foramina incisive size and construction, length of maxillary bone). According to the available data, zokors from Primorsky Krai are identical to the zokors from the southern part of the species range and are considered as typical M. p. psilurus. The zokors from the Great Khingan region must be considered as M. p. epsilanus. The zokors from Zabaykalsky Krai and Eastern Mongolia are definitely close to M. p. epsilanus by the morphometric data, but have some specific features in foramina incisiva construction, the length of the M1 and M2 and the total length of the upper tooth-row. So, we propose to consider this form as a separate subspecies of the North China zokor provisionally. For the further revision, integrated genetic and morphological research of the zokors from the Chinese part of the species range is necessary to be done.

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