The impact of the Congo River and its tributaries on the rodent genus Praomys: speciation origin or range expansion limit?

Authors

  • JAN KENNIS,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Antwerp, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
      E-mail: jan.kennis@ua.ac.be
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  • VIOLAINE NICOLAS,

    1. MNHN, Laboratoire Mammifères et Oiseaux, Département de Systématique et Evolution, UMR 7205, USM 601, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 51, 75005 Paris, France
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  • JAN HULSELMANS,

    1. University of Antwerp, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
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  • PIONUS G. B. KATUALA,

    1. University of Kisangani, Animal ecology and resource management laboratory (LEGERA), Av. Kitima N°1, B.P. 2012, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo
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  • WIM WENDELEN,

    1. Royal Museum for Central Africa, Vertebrate Section, Leuvensesteenweg 13, B-3080 Tervuren, Belgium
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  • ERIK VERHEYEN,

    1. University of Antwerp, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
    2. Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Vertebrate department, Vautierstraat 29, B-1000 Brussel, Belgium
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  • AKAIBE M. DUDU,

    1. University of Kisangani, Animal ecology and resource management laboratory (LEGERA), Av. Kitima N°1, B.P. 2012, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo
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  • HERWIG LEIRS

    1. University of Antwerp, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
    2. Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory, University of Aarhus, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Integrated Pest Management, Skovbrynet 14, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
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E-mail: jan.kennis@ua.ac.be

Abstract

We studied the taxonomy, distribution, and ecology of species within Praomys, a common rodent genus present in rainforests and montane forests in sub-Saharan Africa. The taxonomy of the group is problematic, and for the sampled region of Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo) no prior genetic study has been published. We used a combination of molecular (cyt b sequencing) and craniometric techniques (canonical analyses of skull measurements) for the species identification of a total of 654 specimens. We confirm the presence of Praomys minor in the region, up to now only known from the type and paratype specimens. At least seven species are present in the Kisangani region, and two clades occur along both banks of the Congo River. The present-day distribution of the genus seems to be influenced by large-scale rainforest fragmentation related to drier periods in geological history. The Congo River could in this case constitute a modern barrier to gene flow when the climate enabled rainforest expansion. The tributaries of the Congo River play no role in limiting Praomys species distribution, apart from the Aruwimi River for Praomys jacksoni s.l.

© 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 163, 983–1002.

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