Thursday, August 17, 2017

[Mammalogy • 2017] Reconstructing the Molecular Phylogeny of Giant Sengis (Macroscelidea; Macroscelididae; Rhynchocyon)

Rhynchocyon stuhlmanni  Matschie, 1893

photo: Jabruson/NPL/Minden Pictures

Giant sengis (Macroscelidea; Macroscelididae; Rhynchocyon), also known as giant elephant-shrews, are small-bodied mammals that range from central through eastern Africa. Previous research on giant sengi systematics has relied primarily on pelage color and geographic distribution. Because some species have complex phenotypic variation and large geographic ranges, we used molecular markers to evaluate the phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus, which currently includes four species: R. chrysopygus, R. cirnei (six subspecies), R. petersi (two subspecies), and R. udzungwensis. We extracted DNA from fresh and historical museum samples from all taxa except one R. cirnei subspecies, and we generated and analyzed approximately 4700 aligned nucleotides (2685 bases of mitochondrial DNA and 2019 bases of nuclear DNA) to reconstruct a molecular phylogeny. We genetically evaluate Rhynchocyon spp. sequences previously published on GenBank, propose that the captive R. petersi population in North American zoos is likely R. p. adersi, and suggest that hybridization among taxa is not widespread in Rhynchocyon. The DNA sample we have from the distinctive but undescribed giant sengi from the Boni forest of northern coastal Kenya is unexpectedly nearly identical to R. chrysopygus, which will require further study. Our analyses support the current morphology-based taxonomy, with each recognized species forming a monophyletic clade, but we propose elevating Rhynchocyon cirnei stuhlmanni to a full species [Rhynchocyon stuhlmanni].

Keywords: Rhynchocyon, Giant sengis, Elephant-shrews, Africa, Macroscelididae, Phylogenetics, Taxonomy

 Elizabeth J. Carlen, Galen B. Rathbun, Link E. Olson, Christopher A. Sabuni, William T. Stanley and John P. Dumbacher. 2017. Reconstructing the Molecular Phylogeny of Giant Sengis (Macroscelidea; Macroscelididae; Rhynchocyon). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 113; 150–160.  DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.05.012

Collections at the California Academy of Sciences [@calacademy] aid researchers in revising a mammal branch on tree of life via @physorg_com

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