, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 221-245

MtDNA Evidence for Repeated Pulses of Speciation Within Arvicoline and Murid Rodents

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We examined temporal aspects of phylogenetic relationships among 5 murid rodent subfamilies and 11 arvicoline genera based on DNA sequences of the cytochrome b gene (n = 92) and ND4 gene (n = 17). We found monophyly for Muridae but a polytomy among murid subfamilies. Arvicolinae was monophyletic, but most genera within this subfamily arose from a polytomy. Microtus was monophyletic, but within the genus, species arose rapidly. This pattern of nested pulses (polytomies) was recovered across parsimony, distance, and likelihood methods and indicates that accumulation of taxonomic diversity in murids was sporadic, rather than gradual. Arvicolines appeared in the Late Miocene and diversified later, between 3 and 5 million years ago. A relatively high rate of sequence evolution (i.e., 2.3% in third-position transversions per million years) helps reconcile the diversification of fossils and mtDNA lineages.