The taxonomic status of British Water voles, genus Arvicola



Samples of skulls of Arvicola were studied from several regions of Britain to test the hypothesis that more than one species of the genus might be present. Analysis of cranial measurements and of quasi-discontinuous variants of the skull provides no grounds for recognizing more than a single species, and comparison with samples from continental Europe supports the view that all the British samples represent A. terrestris rather than A. supidus. The analysis of epigenetic variants confirms the difference between A. terrestris and A. sapidus. None of the characters studied shows much regional variation within the Britain mainland, but further data are provided on the characters of an insular population on Eilean Gamhna, Argyll.