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Keywords:

  • Eastern Arc Mountains;
  • Makambako Gap;
  • Praomys melanotus;
  • Praomys taitae;
  • taxonomy

We examined approximately 600 specimens that represent the Praomys delectorum species group (Muridae: Murinae: Praomyini), a rodent complex restricted to Afromontane landscapes in East Africa and currently viewed as a single species. Morphometric analyses of 21 population samples consistently disclosed cohesive patterns of craniodental differentiation that support the recognition of three species: Praomys delectorum Thomas, confined to extreme southern Malawi; P. melanotus Allen & Loveridge, found in highlands of south-western Tanzania and contiguous northern Malawi; and P. taitae Heller (including octomastis Hatt), distributed in mountains and foothills of southern Kenya and northern and central Tanzania. Populations of the P. delectorum group are patchily distributed in moist montane forest, most collecting localities falling within 1000–2400 m, and their range collectively coincides with the Tanganyika–Nyasa Montane Forest Group sensu Moreau. Patterns of faunal similarity derived from distributions of 65 species of terrestrial small mammals recorded from Tanzania's highlands, including the Eastern Arc Mountains, demonstrated pronounced geographical discontinuities in montane associations but failed to uncover a prominent vicariant role for the Makambako Gap.

© 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 165, 420–469.