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A contribution to the knowledge of the taxonomy of the subgenus Abrothrix (Angelomys) (Rodentia, Cricetidae) in southernmost South America

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As currently understood, the subgenus Abrothrix (Angelomys) Teta et al. (33:153–182, 2017) includes four species of small (< 25 g), short-tailed mice (< 65% of the length of the head plus body), widely distributed from southern Peru to southernmost Argentina and Chile. At least four nominal forms of this subgenus (i.e., canescens Waterhouse 2:109–27, 1837, hershkovitzi Patterson et al. (23:1–16, 1984), llanoi Pine (40:63–68, 1976), and xanthorhina Waterhouse 2:109–27, 1837), reach the southernmost portion of South America, being their taxonomy largely discussed during the last century. In this contribution we reviewed all these nominal forms, which were alternatively considered as valid at the species level or as subspecies of A. olivacea, (Waterhouse 2:109–27, 1837) based both on molecular (D-loop) and morphological (qualitative and quantitative) evidence. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic analysis of molecular data depicts a main break between north (= olivacea) and south (= xanthorhina) population of the Magellan Strait, which is moderately reflected in multivariate analysis of morphological cranial traits. Based on these results, the lack of qualitative craniodental differences among samples, plus additional genetic evidences (SNPs), we discuss some alternative taxonomic scenarios (i.e., if xanthorhina is a valid species or a subspecies of olivacea). Within this context, we advocated for the recognition at the subspecies level of the nominal forms hershkovitzi and llanoi, based on their large phenotypic distinctiveness and geographical isolation. We consider these data to be of utmost importance for the conservation of the biodiversity of the delicate island ecosystems of southernmost South America.

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We would like to thank Julio Escobar, Guillermo Deferrari, Lourdez Valdéz and Guillermo D’Elía for their help in the collection of some samples. We are indebted to Ulyses Pardiñas (CNP), Bruce Patterson (FMNH), Guillermo D´Elía (UACh), and Darrin Lunde (USNM) for allowing access to specimens under their care. Our special gratitude to Claudio Bravi for reviewing the molecular data and to Mahmoud Magdy El Mosallamy for the help with the analysis. We are very grateful to Mariela Fernanda Victorio for her technical assistance in the laboratory. We would like to thank Pedro Pascale for the revision of the English language. Our gratefulness to Bruce Patterson, Carola Cañon and the anonymous referee for the critical review on the manuscript.


This project was funded by P-UE 2016 CADIC, CONICET and the PIP 11220170100188CO 2017–2019 CONICET and the PIDUNTDF B05 2017–2019.

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JS and ML conceived the main idea of this research. JS and SP conducted laboratory experiments. SP and LL carried out the field work. LL collaborated with the figures elaboration. JS, ML, SP, PT performed the data analysis. JS, SP and PT wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Julieta Sánchez.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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This study was carried out in strict accordance with the recommendations for care and use of animals of the Ethical Framework of Reference for Biomedical Research, Annex II: Ethical principles for research in animals from laboratory, farms and obtained from nature, Resolution No 1047/05 of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Secretariat of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) of Argentina.

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Sánchez, J., Poljak, S., Teta, P. et al. A contribution to the knowledge of the taxonomy of the subgenus Abrothrix (Angelomys) (Rodentia, Cricetidae) in southernmost South America. Polar Biol 45, 601–614 (2022).

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