Museum Blog

Shrews in the News

Posted 7/2/2012 12:07 AM by John Demboski | Comments

The USGS issued a press release around our new shrew paper published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

 

Here's the link to the release: "Shrews in the News - Rapid Evolution of Shrews in Response to Climate Change"

 

and here: "Shrews Rapidly Evolving in Response to Climate Change"

 

The paper was published in  Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution (MPE) on North American shrew systematics, biogeography, and diversification. Hopefully out this year, the on-line version most certainly so.

 

Hope, AG, KA Speer, JR Demboski, SL Talbot, and JA Cook (in press). A climate for speciation: rapid spatial diversification within the Sorex cinereus complex of shrews. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

 

The gist of the paper is that late Pleistocene glacial and interglacial cycles were the catalyst for speciation and diversification events within a group of shrews consisting of about 13 recognized species and probably some cryptic species waiting to be described. 

 

The lead author, Andrew Hope (who I spent quality time with in Mongolia), followed up on some work I had done in the 90's. Andrew and Kelly expanded the sampling of species, specimens, and genetic loci that were examined.  This is a much more comprehensive look at this species complex which appears to have responded dramatically to climatic and geological cycles over the last 350,000 years, including recolonizing Asia.

 

Shrews are interesting mammals that belong to the order Soricomorpha and are found across most of the Northern Hemisphere.  They are among the smallest mammals on the planet and in some regions, the most abundant and diverse species. They have a farily simple body plan which makes it difficult to ID them, much less figure out their evolutionary history. Molecular approaches have really shed light on these enigmatic beasts.

 

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