A composite species-level phylogeny of the ‘Insectivora’ (Mammalia: Order Lipotyphla Haeckel, 1866)

Authors

  • Richard Grenyer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, U.K.
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  • Andy Purvis

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, U.K.
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*All correspondence to: R. Grenyer. E-mail: r.grenyer@imperial.ac.uk

Abstract

The first MRP (matrix representation with parsimony) supertree phylogeny of the Lipotyphla is presented, covering all the families that were considered to make up the traditional mammalian order Insectivora. The phylogeny does not examine relationships within the shrew subfamily Crocidurinae, but all other taxa are considered at the species level, drawing upon 41 years of systematic literature and combining information from 47 published sources. The MRP technique is also critically discussed. This study will be of use to comparative biology studies of the Lipotyphla (or of mammals as a whole) and is a rigorous review of past systematic work, as well as clearly demonstrating our current level of knowledge. The supertree clearly details a strong imbalance in phylogenetic understanding across the taxon: a great deal is known about the hedgehogs and gymnures (Erinaceidae), the New World moles (Talpidae), Palaearctic species of Sorex (subgenus Sorex) and the relationships between genera of red-toothed shrews (Soricinae). The supertree, however, clearly shows areas where our knowledge is conflicting or non-existent, and these gaps do not always correspond to obscure species: nothing is known about the systematics of Old World mole genera. Also very little is known about golden moles (Chrysochloridae) and the shrew-tenrec genus Microgale, some of the most threatened mammals on Earth.

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