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Geographic pattern of cranial differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and its taxonomic implications

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Abstract
The existence of cryptic species in the midday jird (Meriones meridianus) has been suggested in literature, although based on little empirical data to support this hypothesis. In this study, a two-dimensional landmark-based geometric morphometric approach was used to investigate whether patterns in intraspecific variation in skull shape and size exist, using 110 skull specimens from more than 20 different localities along the distribution range of M.similar to meridianus. This is the first study of morphological differences on such a big sample size and geographical range, and it tries to find whether skull shape variation in this species is best described as being clinal or rather reflecting cryptic diversity. The latter seems to be the case, as a dimorphic skull phenotype was found, reflecting a geographic disparity between the Middle East and the Far East specimens both in shape and in size. Distinct cranial differences were found in the overall cranial size and, also at the level of the inflation of the bulla, the elongation of the nasal, the length of the teeth row and the incisive foramen, as well as the distance in between the latter two. It thus seems that M.similar to meridianus from Middle East is morphologically distinct from that of the Far East. Furthermore, our results also demonstrate that clinal variation could explain variation within Middle East populations, whereas a more heterogenous pattern is found for those of the Far East. The hypothesis that the observed phenotypic variation may reflect cryptic species is discussed, with the recommendation for a thorough taxonomical revision of the genus in the region.
Keywords
GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS, SYSTEMATICS, skull morphology, Muridae, Iran, Central Asia, geometric morphometrics, EVOLUTION, MONKEYS, SKULL

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MLA
Tabatabaei Yazdi, Fatemeh, Dominique Adriaens, and Jamshid Darvish. “Geographic Pattern of Cranial Differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones Meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and Its Taxonomic Implications.” JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH 50.2 (2012): 157–164. Print.
APA
Tabatabaei Yazdi, F., Adriaens, D., & Darvish, J. (2012). Geographic pattern of cranial differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and its taxonomic implications. JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH, 50(2), 157–164.
Chicago author-date
Tabatabaei Yazdi, Fatemeh, Dominique Adriaens, and Jamshid Darvish. 2012. “Geographic Pattern of Cranial Differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones Meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and Its Taxonomic Implications.” Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 50 (2): 157–164.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Tabatabaei Yazdi, Fatemeh, Dominique Adriaens, and Jamshid Darvish. 2012. “Geographic Pattern of Cranial Differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones Meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and Its Taxonomic Implications.” Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 50 (2): 157–164.
Vancouver
1.
Tabatabaei Yazdi F, Adriaens D, Darvish J. Geographic pattern of cranial differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and its taxonomic implications. JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH. 2012;50(2):157–64.
IEEE
[1]
F. Tabatabaei Yazdi, D. Adriaens, and J. Darvish, “Geographic pattern of cranial differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and its taxonomic implications,” JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 157–164, 2012.
@article{2125897,
  abstract     = {The existence of cryptic species in the midday jird (Meriones meridianus) has been suggested in literature, although based on little empirical data to support this hypothesis. In this study, a two-dimensional landmark-based geometric morphometric approach was used to investigate whether patterns in intraspecific variation in skull shape and size exist, using 110 skull specimens from more than 20 different localities along the distribution range of M.similar to meridianus. This is the first study of morphological differences on such a big sample size and geographical range, and it tries to find whether skull shape variation in this species is best described as being clinal or rather reflecting cryptic diversity. The latter seems to be the case, as a dimorphic skull phenotype was found, reflecting a geographic disparity between the Middle East and the Far East specimens both in shape and in size. Distinct cranial differences were found in the overall cranial size and, also at the level of the inflation of the bulla, the elongation of the nasal, the length of the teeth row and the incisive foramen, as well as the distance in between the latter two. It thus seems that M.similar to meridianus from Middle East is morphologically distinct from that of the Far East. Furthermore, our results also demonstrate that clinal variation could explain variation within Middle East populations, whereas a more heterogenous pattern is found for those of the Far East. The hypothesis that the observed phenotypic variation may reflect cryptic species is discussed, with the recommendation for a thorough taxonomical revision of the genus in the region.},
  author       = {Tabatabaei Yazdi, Fatemeh and Adriaens, Dominique and Darvish, Jamshid},
  issn         = {1439-0469},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH},
  keywords     = {GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS,SYSTEMATICS,skull morphology,Muridae,Iran,Central Asia,geometric morphometrics,EVOLUTION,MONKEYS,SKULL},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {157--164},
  title        = {Geographic pattern of cranial differentiation in the Asian Midday Jird Meriones meridianus (Rodentia: Muridae: Gerbillinae) and its taxonomic implications},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0469.2011.00642.x},
  volume       = {50},
  year         = {2012},
}

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