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Morphometric variation of tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri) from different regions

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Phenotypic plasticity is the capacity for individuals to modify their phenotype in response to environmental changes. For example, variation in external and cranial characters have been documented in some small mammals and can result in controversy over classification, which has been the case for tree shrews for decades. However, there are few reports about external and cranial character variation in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Here, such character variants of tree shrews were documented for 11 different sampling sites (Hainan, Daxin, Leye, Xingyi, Hekou, Kunming, Xichang, Dali, Pianma, Tengchong, Mengla) and for laboratory samples. The results showed that external and cranial characters of tree shrews significantly differed among regions, Hainan and Daxin populations were significantly larger than those of other populations, and Leye, Xingyi, Kunming and Xichang populations were smaller. The variation may be related to the habitat of tree shrews and our data may initiate new interest in morphological variants in small mammals. The presented detailed examination of the morphometric characters in tree shrews, and the exposed significant morphological differences among tree shrews, are expected to help in confirming their classification status.

Affiliations: 1: 1Key Laboratory of Ecological Adaptive Evolution and Conservation on Animals-Plants in Southwest Mountain Ecosystem of University in Yunnan Province, School of Life Science of Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China ; 2: 2School of Energy and Environmental Science, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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