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Cytochrome b yields new insight into taxonomic scope of Microtus schidlovskii (Rodentia, Arvicolinae, Microtus)
Zorenko T., Koren T., Kryštufek B.
P. 47-52
Microtus schidlovskii is a member of social voles (subgenus Sumeriomys) known from a small range in the highlands of Armenia. Similar voles were reported from Anatolia and Lebanon but were mainly ascribed to another enigmatic species M. irani. We assessed taxonomic position of M. schidlovskii from Armenia and its relationships with seven other species of social voles using molecular data. Phylogenetic reconstructions were based on a 409 bp fragment of cytochrome b M. schidlovskii and reference samples of M. irani, including M. irani karamani from Turkey and Lebanon. M. irani within its current scope emerged to be paraphyletic with respect to M. schidlovskii. Mean K2P distances in the irani-schidlovskii-karamani cluster were the highest (0.038) between the irani and the schidlovskii lineages and the lowest (0.028) between the schidlovskii and the karamani lineages; the distance separating the irani and karamani lineages was intermediate (0.032). The irani-schidlovskii-karamani group is genetically more variable than any other species group of social voles. We conclude that voles from Lebanon and Turkey (M. irani karamani) are conspecific with M. schidlovskii from Armenia. Furthermore, genetic divergence between M. irani and M. schidlovskii is the lowest among the species of social voles. And finally, our study restricted geographic scope of M. irani to its type locality in Shiraz.

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