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Morphometric Variation in the Mandible of Microtus Arvalis and Microtus Agrestis (Rodentia: Cricetidae)

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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).

Skulls of the sibling species Microtus arvalis and M. agrestis were collected from the pellets of Barn owls in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Initial identification was made according to the shape of the second upper molar, although this is not 100% reliable. Multivariate statistical analysis of 45 distance measurements of the lower mandible clearly revealed two groups which corresponded to the two species, except for 17 specimens from France. In further analyses the number of measurements was reduced to six and discriminant functions derived which yielded 100% correct allocation of the identified material, and a mean a posteriori probability of 98.8% correct allocation of the unidentified material. Within-species geographic variation in mandible shape was found and is parallel in the two species, suggesting either similar adaptation (genetic or ontogenetic) to a geographically varying environment, or hybridisation with genetic introgression.

Affiliations: 1: Animal Taxonomy Section, Wageningen Agricultural University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands


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