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S. Quérouil, P. Barrière, M. Colyn, R. Hutterer, A. Dudu, M. Dillen and E. Verheyen (2005)

Biology of the Soricidae

In: Special Publication Of The International Society Of Shrew Biologists, ed. by Hutterer;Sheftel, Merritt; Churchfield;, pp. 99–113, Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Publication.

Crocidura is the largest shrew genus, and occurs in most of the Old World. Its taxonomy is complex, and some species are morphologically so similar that they are allocated to “species groups”. Among the African Crocidura, several species are in need of taxonomic revision or are known by a few speci- mens only. Additional sampling is necessary to in- crease the number of specimens available in order to perform multivariate analyses of morphological characters. Meanwhile, molecular tools might help solve taxonomical difficulties and select specimens for further analyses. We used a combined morpho- logical and molecular approach to investigate spe- cies boundaries and phylogenetic relationships within African Crocidura species groups. We se- quenced part of the 16s rRNA mitochondrial gene of 131 specimens, representing a minimum of 30 morphologically defined species. Mitochondrial DNA sequences confirmed the distinctness of spe- cies in groups where cranio-dental characters allow reliable specific identification, but failed to confirm the differentiation of species within the most com- plex species groups. Within two of these groups, haplotypes tended to cluster by localities rather than by putative species, suggesting potential synonymy. We also detected three potentially new or unrecog- nized species. Our findings are encouraging, but will have to be further investigated using multivariate analyses of morphological characters and additional molecular analyses.

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