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You are here: Home / Associated publications / Belgian Journal of Zoology / Bibliographic References / Interspecific morphometric variation in the postcranial skeleton in the genus Apodemus

Pavlina Kuncova and Daniel Frynta (2009)

Interspecific morphometric variation in the postcranial skeleton in the genus Apodemus


Wood mice (genus Apodemus) are common murid rodents in the Palearctic region. In spite of the fact that they exhibit high phenotypic similarity, individual species (populations) differ in their preferred habitat (woodlands, steppes-fields, rocks) and behaviour (tendency to digging, jumping, climbing). It is therefore of special interest to evaluate interspecific (inter-population) variability in postcranial skeleton within this group and to suggest ecological interpretations of observed differences. We studied skeletons of 265 wood mice belonging to seven species from Europe and the Middle East: Apodemus agrarius (subgenus Apodemus), A. mystacinus (subgenus Karstomys), A. hyrcanicus, A. witherbyi, A. uralensis (=microps), A. flavicollis and A. sylvaticus (subgenus Sylvaemus). Thirty five postcranial and body measurements were obtained and analysed using multivariate statistics. The multivariate analysis, based on size adjusted data, revealed clear morphological separation among species belonging to different subgenera. The morphological characters responsible for this separation and the position of the control sample of A. peninsulae (belongs to the same subgenus as A. agrarius, but differs in preferred habitat) in morphospace support the view, that ecology participated in the shaping of the postcranial skeleton of the studied species. A. agrarius possesses the characters associated with digging activity, A. mystacinus with jumping and Sylvaemus species with fast terrestrial movement and climbing. However, there were found only subtle morphological differences among individual Sylvaemus species, in spite of variability in their ecological requirements.

morphometrics; ecomorphology; wood mice; Sylvaemus; Apodemus; Karstomys
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology