Reasearch Awards nomination

Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Multilocus phylogeny and cryptic diversity in Asian shrew-like moles (Uropsilus, Talpidae): implications for taxonomy and conservation

Tao Wan12, Kai He13 and Xue-Long Jiang1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China

2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049 China

3 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:232  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-232

Published: 25 October 2013

Abstract

Background

The genus Uropsilus comprises a group of terrestrial, montane mammals endemic to the Hengduan and adjacent mountains. These animals are the most primitive living talpids. The taxonomy has been primarily based on cursory morphological comparisons and the evolutionary affinities are little known. To provide insight into the systematics of this group, we estimated the first multi-locus phylogeny and conducted species delimitation, including taxon sampling throughout their distribution range.

Results

We obtained two mitochondrial genes (~1, 985 bp) and eight nuclear genes (~4, 345 bp) from 56 specimens. Ten distinct evolutionary lineages were recovered from the three recognized species, eight of which were recognized as species/putative species. Five of these putative species were found to be masquerading as the gracile shrew mole. The divergence time estimation results indicated that climate change since the last Miocene and the uplift of the Himalayas may have resulted in the diversification and speciation of Uropsilus.

Conclusions

The cryptic diversity found in this study indicated that the number of species is strongly underestimated under the current taxonomy. Two synonyms of gracilis (atronates and nivatus) should be given full species status, and the taxonomic status of another three potential species should be evaluated using extensive taxon sampling, comprehensive morphological, and morphometric approaches. Consequently, the conservation status of Uropsilus spp. should also be re-evaluated, as most of the species/potential species have very limited distribution.