Morphometric variation in the Nearctic collared lemming (Dicrostonyx)

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Abstract

A. H. Macpherson suggested that much of the current geographic diversity in Canadian Arctic mammals resulted from isolation in refugia during the Wisconsin glacial stage. This study evaluates the refugium hypothesis, insofar as it applies to Nearctic Dicrostonyx, by means of a statistical analysis of geographic variation in 13 skull characters. Overall, geographic variation among samples is not significant, although D. hudsonius and D. unalascensis are geographically and morphologically distinct. Some variation in skull shape is correlated with winter temperature. Partitioning tests on other measures of shape variation indicate some discontinuities consistent with the refugial hypothesis. Discrete samples reflect possible refugial populations in northern North America, Eastern Beringia and two southern periglacial refugia, one in eastern North America and at least one in western North America.

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