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Differentiation of cryptic wood mice species of the subgenus Sylvaemus under different ecogeographic conditions in the Northern Caucasus

Amshokova, A. Kh., Tembotova, F. A.
Russian journal of ecology 2016 v.47 no.4 pp. 376-382
Apodemus, biotopes, hybridization, interspecific variation, sympatry
Based on analysis of the frequencies of nonmetric cranial characters, the ratio of interpopulation and interspecific differences has been studied in populations of two genetically identified cryptic species of wood mice, A. uralensis and A. ponticus, living under different ecological conditions in the Northern Caucasus. Hybridization between these species has not been reported previously, but interspecific phenetic distances indicate that differences between them do not exceed the level characteristic of subspecies, with morphological differentiation between A. uralensis populations of the Central and Western Caucasus being weakly expressed. It is hypothesized that the low level of intra- and interspecific differences is explained by the sympatric and symbiotopic origin of both species in the Western Caucasus. This may account for the retention of their similarity in ecological requirements for the environment and, consequently, only slight morphological disparity in similar biotopes.