Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 111–123 | Cite as

Taxonomic Boundaries and Craniometric Variation in the Treeshrews (Scandentia, Tupaiidae) from the Palawan Faunal Region

  • Eric J. SargisEmail author
  • Kyle K. Campbell
  • Link E. Olson
Original Paper


The taxonomy of treeshrews (Order Scandentia) has long been complicated by ambiguous morphological species boundaries, and the treeshrews of the Palawan faunal region of the Philippines are no exception. Four named forms in the genus Tupaia Raffles, 1821, have been described from four island groups based on subtle qualitative morphological characters, and as many as three distinct species have been recognized. A recent molecular phylogenetic study of relationships among Tupaia species suggests that the two currently-recognized treeshrew species from the Palawan faunal region diverged very recently relative to other sister-species divergences within the genus and may not represent species-level taxonomic entities. Here we review the taxonomic and biogeographic histories of the Tupaia taxa from this region. We also collected craniodental data from 133 skulls of all four named forms, representing five island populations, and conducted univariate and multivariate analyses on these data. Our morphometric results are consistent with molecular results, further suggesting that there is insufficient evidence to recognize T. moellendorffi Matschie, 1898, as a separate species from T. palawanensis Thomas, 1894. Our analyses also revealed a craniodentally divergent population from the island of Balabac, which has never been considered a distinct subspecies (or species) from the population on Palawan. These results have conservation implications for the island populations in our analyses, but additional surveys and molecular evidence will be required to fully assess conservation priorities for the treeshrews of the Palawan faunal region.


Cranium Morphology Philippines Skull Taxonomy Tupaia 



This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant DEB-0542532/0542725 and an Alaska EPSCoR grant to E.J.S. and L.E.O. A portion of this manuscript was written when L.E.O. was supported by an Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholarship from the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS). We thank the following curators, collection managers, and museums for access to the specimens in their collections: Eileen Westwig and Darrin Lunde, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York; Roberto Portela-Miguez, Louise Tomsett, and Paula Jenkins, The Natural History Museum (BMNH), London; Bill Stanley and Larry Heaney, Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH), Chicago; Judy Chupasko and Mark Omura, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University (MCZ), Cambridge, MA; Katrin Krohmann and Ottmar Kullmer, Senckenberg Naturmuseum (SMF), Frankfurt; Linda Gordon, Richard Thorington, Kris Helgen, and Darrin Lunde, United States National Museum of Natural History (USNM), Washington, DC; Renate Angermann and Frieder Mayer, Museum für Naturkunde (ZMB), Berlin. We also thank Trina Roberts for providing the map in Fig. 1 and for helpful discussions. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers and John Wible for their helpful comments, which improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10914_2013_9229_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22.4 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric J. Sargis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kyle K. Campbell
    • 3
  • Link E. Olson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Division of Vertebrate ZoologyYale Peabody Museum of Natural HistoryNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.University of Alaska Museum, University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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