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SPECIES Microtus (Microtus) irani

Author:Thomas, 1921.
Citation:J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 27: 580.
Common Name:Iranian Vole
Type Locality:WC Iran, NW Fars Prov, Shiraz, 5200 ft (see Kryštufek and Kefelioğlu, 2002).
Distribution:Recorded only from the type locality.
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (lc).

Subgenus Microtus, socialis species group (Zagorodnyuk, 1990). Most closely related to M. paradoxus, M. socialis, and M. guentheri. Described by Thomas (1921h) as a species known only from Shiraz, as recognized by Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1951), but included in M. socialis by Ellerman (1941), Corbet (1978c), and Harrison and Bates (1991). Although Kock et al. (1972) and Kock and Nader (1983) reaffirmed the species integrity of M. irani, they uncritically expanded its geographic range to extend from Israel to W Iran, a definition later perpetuated by others (Pavlinov and Rossolimo, 1987, 1998; Zagorodnyuk, 1990; Musser and Carleton, 1993). Kryštufek and Kefelioğlu (2002), however, documented M. socialis proper as extending south into W Iran, along the Zagros Mtns to a locality 38 km west of Shiraz, where samples maintain an identity markedly unlike the type series of irani. Kock and Nader (1983) also considered most records of M. guentheri from Syria, Lebanon, and Israel to be M. irani and that philistinus (Thomas, 1917d; type locality, Ekron, SE Jaffa, Israel) may be an older name; Musser and Carleton (1993) retained Kock and Nader’s (1983) distributional range but used philistinus.

In their revision of the socialis species group in the Near East, Kryštufek and Kefelioğlu (2002) defined the morphological and distributional limits of true M. socialis (see that account), identified a second group of "nonsocialis" voles in Iran (later identified as M. guentheri fide Kryštufek, in litt., 2002; see above account), and excluded irani from both. Kryštufek and Kefelioğlu (2002) redescribed M. irani based on the holotype and three original topotypes (Thomas, 1921h, had recorded six in his type series, but they located only four in the BMNH), contrasted the species with the "nonsocialis" group from Iran and Turkey, reaffirmed the identity of philistinus with M. guentheri and its separation from M. irani, and regarded the latter as "an independent species, known solely from its type locality." The phylogenetic alliance of M. irani to other members of the M. socialis group needs reevaluation, using a larger sample from the type locality and accessing chromosomal and molecular data.




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