Arvicolini, subtribe Arvicolina (Pavlinov et al., 1995a). Arvicola is phylogenetically close to Microtus (Burgos et al., 1989; Chaline and Graf, 1988; Graf, 1982; Mezhzherin et al., 1993). Excludes the North American Microtus richardsoni (see that account), placed in Arvicola by Hooper and Hart (1962).
Heinrich (1990) hypothesized that Arvicola evolved from the extinct Mimomys, a view already presented by Hinton (1926a). Many studies summarize the rich European fossil history, with differing emphases on the transition leading from Pliocene Mimomys or Cromeromys to the early Pleistocene Mimomys savini, and eventually to modern species of Arvicola (Chaline, 1990; Chaline et al., 1999; Desclaux et al., 2000; Maul et al., 2000; Neraudeau et al., 1995; Rekovets, 1990). The European middle Pleistocene A. mosbachensis is the oldest species of Arvicola, as known to date, from which the living forms can be derived (Agadzhanian, 2000; Maul et al., 2000; Rekovets, 1990). In broad phylogeographic studies of A. sapidus and terrestris (here = A. amphibius), Taberlet et al. (1998) and Hewitt (1999) identified S European peninsulas (Iberian, Italian, and Balkan) as major ice-age refugia from which genetically distinct taxa emerged. Kolfschoten (1992) presented another view of postglacial immigrations, extinctions, and recolonizations, as based on the Arvicola fossil record in NW Europe.
Panteleyev’s (2000) monograph exhaustively treats Arvicola’s systematics and phylogeny, morphology and physiology, ecology and behavior, and agricultural and epidemiological impacts. The number of species recognized has varied from one (terrestris—Ellerman and Morrison-Scott, 1951), to four (amphibius, sapidus, scherman, and terrestris—Hinton, 1926a) or seven (amphibius, illyricus, italicus, musignani, sapidus, scherman, and terrestris—Miller, 1912a), but usually just two (sapidus and terrestris—e.g., Corbet et al., 1970; Corbet, 1978c, 1984; Corbet and Hill, 1991; Gromov and Polyakov, 1977; Musser and Carleton, 1993). Here, we acknowledge the strongly differentiated fossorial form, A. scherman, as a third species, along with A. amphibius and A. sapidus, although we anticipate that future revisionary research will undoubtedly converge towards Miller’s (1912a) recognition of biodiversity.