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Comparative phylogeography of three endemic rodents from the Albertine Rift, east central Africa

Authors

  • MICHAEL H. HUHNDORF,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Behaviour, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Section, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois 61790-4120, USA,
    2. Department of Zoology, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, 60605-2496, USA,
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  • JULIAN C. KERBIS PETERHANS,

    1. Department of Zoology, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, 60605-2496, USA,
    2. University College, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, 60605, USA
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  • SABINE S. LOEW

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Behaviour, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Section, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois 61790-4120, USA,
    2. Department of Zoology, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, 60605-2496, USA,
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Michael H. Huhndorf, Fax: 309-438-3722; E-mail: mhhuhnd@ilstu.edu

Abstract

The major aim of this study was to compare the phylogeographic patterns of codistributed rodents from the fragmented montane rainforests of the Albertine Rift region of east central Africa. We sampled individuals of three endemic rodent species, Hylomyscus denniae, Hybomys lunaris and Lophuromys woosnami from four localities in the Albertine Rift. We analysed mitochondrial DNA sequence variation from fragments of the cytochrome b and control region genes and found significant phylogeographic structuring for the three taxa examined. The recovered phylogenies suggest that climatic fluctuations and volcanic activity of the Virunga Volcanoes chain have caused the fragmentation of rainforest habitat during the past 2 million years. This fragmentation has played a major role in the diversification of the montane endemic rodents of the region. Estimation of the divergence times within each species suggests a separation of the major clades occurring during the mid to late Pleistocene.

Ancillary