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SPECIES Lophuromys (Lophuromys) brevicaudus

Author:Osgood, 1936.
Citation:Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., 20: 241.
Common Name:Short-tailed Brush-furred Rat
Type Locality:Ethiopia, Arusi (=Arsi) Province, Chilalo Mtns, Mt Albasso.
Distribution:Endemic to SC Ethiopian highlands on east side of Ethiopian Rift Valley between 2400 and 3750 m; recorded from the Chilalo and Gedeb Mtns by Osgood (1936) and from the Bale Mtns by Lavrenchenko et al. (1998b).

Subgenus Lophuromys, L. flavopunctatus species group (Lavrenchenko et al., 1998b, 2000). Described as a distinctive species (Osgood, 1936), but later included in L. flavopunctatus (Misonne, 1974; Yalden et al., 1976, 1996). Allozymic (Lavrenchenko et al., 2000), chromosomal (Aniskin et al., 1997), and morphological and morphometric data (Lavrenchenko et al., 1998b; W. Verheyen et al., 2002) separate brevicaudus as a species. Lavrenchenko et al. (1998b) noted that L. brevicauda is diurnal and one of the most common small mammals occurring in the Erica-Hypericum heath zone (3170-3750 m) in the Harenna Forest on southern slopes of the Bale Mtns. At about 3500 m, L. brevicauda’s range narrowly overlaps lower margin of the altitudinal distribution of L. melanonyx. At the lower end of L. brevicauda’s altitudinal range, between 2400 and 2760 m in the Schefflera-Hagenia belt on southern slope of Bale Massif, it coexists with L. chrysopus (Lavrenchenko, 2000; Lavrenchenko et al., 1998b).

Allozymic data (Lavrenchenko et al., 2000) indicate that L. melanonyx diverged basally to the sister species L. brevicaudus and L. chrysopus. Lophuromys chrysopus, L. brevicaudus, and L. melanonyx "occur in the Bale Mountains, replacing each other in the different altitudinal belts (tropical forest–heathland–afro-alpine zone) each time with a small overlap suggesting an adaptive pattern of speciation" (Lavrenchenko et al., 1998b). Multivariate analyses of morphometric data (Bekele and Corti, 1994) from seven geographic samples of L. flavopunctatus and L. melanonyx uncovered three groups: L. megalonyx; a second cluster of samples from N, C, and W Ethiopia; and a third assemblage from the Bale Mtns. Lavrenchenko et al. (1998b) thought the Bale Mtns sample to be a mixture of L. brevicauda and L. chrysopus.

Lophuromys brevicaudus, along with L. flavopunctatus and L. melanonyx, are Ethiopian endemics and members of the strictly Ethiopian L. flavopunctatus species group. The other two Ethiopian endemic Lophuromys (brunneus and chrysopus) apparently form a clade more closely related to the L. aquilus species group than to L. brevicaudus and its allies (W. Verheyen et al., 2002).




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