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Morphometric Analysis of Some Venezuelan Akodontine Rodents

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

A systematic review of representatives of the genera Akodon and Microxus from Venezuela was performed by univariate and multivariate analyses of skull parameters. Specimens were distributed, according to taxonomic and geographic criteria, into the following samples : North (venezuelensis), Northeast (venezuelensis-urichi), South (saturatus), Andes-1 (meridensis), and Andes-2 (bogotensis). Biometric analyses were complemented with a morphological examination of the occlusal surface of the molars. The results indicate that the Andean form bogotensis could be considered as a species of the genus Microxus, since it is significantly smaller than the other taxa studied. Although there was certain craniometric heterogeneity and variation in the incidence of particular molar traits between the other morphotypes, the differences did not justify a specific distinction. Taking into account their geographic distribution, skull size, and morphology of the molar crowns, they could be assigned to Akodon urichi venezuelensis, A. u. meridensis, and A. u. saturatus. The first two are medium-sized subspecies, inhabiting northern Venezuela and the Andes respectively; the latter is a larger form, which occurs south of the Orinoco river. Two discriminant functions based on skull and mandible variables respectively were constructed to separate M. bogotensis from the small-sized forms of Akodon. Differences in the molar morphology between A. urichi subspecies appeared in the frequencies of occurrence of the entolophulid of the entoconid of ml and m2. This variability invalidates the taxonomic value of these dental characters as a diagnostic criterion for Akodon.

Affiliations: 1: Departament de Biologia Animal, de Biologia Vegetal i d'Ecologia, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain; 2: Departament de Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal 645, 08028-Barcelona, Spain; 3: Instituto de Zoología Tropical, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Apartado 47058, Caracas 1041-A, Venezuela


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