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SPECIES Acomys (Acomys) airensis

Author:Thomas and Hinton, 1921.
Citation:Nov. Zool. Tring, 28: 8.
Common Name:Western Saharan Spiny mouse
Type Locality:Niger, Mt Baguezan, Asben (Ar), 5200 ft (1585 m).
Distribution:Recorded from S Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad (B et al., 2001; Barome et al., 1998, 2000; Dobigny et al., 2001a, b, 2002b, 2003; Le Berre, 1990; Tranier et al., 1999).

Subgenus Acomys. Initially described as a species but later included in A. cineraceus (F. Petter, 1954; Rosevear, 1969), A. dimidiatus (Setzer, 1975), or A. cahirinus (Musser and Carleton, 1993; Rosevear, 1969). Tranier (1975b) first reported its karyotype (2n = 40), and subsequent comparisons among samples of airensis, dimidiatus, and cahirinus using chromosomal traits highlighted airensis as a species relative to the other two (Tranier et al., 1999; Volobouev et al., 1991, 1996). Phylogenetic analyses of mtDNA cytochrome b sequences provided concordant results (Barome et al., 2000, 2001a, b; Dobigny et al., 2001a). Denys et al. (1994) described the dental traits distinguishing A. airensis from A. cahirinus, A. chudeaui, and A. seurati. In his initial chromosomal report, Tranier (1975b) placed A. airensis in the A. cahirinus species group, a judgement reinforced by subsequent analyses of chromosomes (Volobouev et al., 2002b) and mtDNA cytochrome b sequences (Barome et al., 2000, who included it in an A. cahirinus-A. dimidiatus group); this assemblage also contains A. johannis, A. minous, A. nesiotes, A. cilicicus, and an unnamed species from Burkina Faso.

Meinig (2000) obtained five specimens from S Mali that are probably A. airensis, although they could be examples of A. johannis. Dobigny et al. (2001a) documented a sample of A. airensis from the Adrar des Iforas massif in NE Mali and reported the karyotype as 2n = 44 and 46, FNa = 66, which expands the previously recorded diploid number of the species (2n = 40 and 43, see references in Dobigny et al., 2001a, b; or 2n = 42, FN = 68, Volobouev et al., 2002b). Analysis of cytochrome b sequences from the NE Mali specimens positively identified them as A. airensis. The records from S Mauritania exhibited 2n = 40, NFa = 66, which is typical for A. airensis (B et al., 2001). Although A. airensis has been caught in rocky habitats, it is often collected in gardens, grain storage units, and huts, in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger (B et al., 2001; Dobigny et al., 2001a).




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