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SPECIES Mastomys coucha

Author:Smith, 1834.
Citation:Rept. Exped. Exploring Central Africa: 43.
Common Name:Southern African Mastomys
Type Locality:South Africa, Northern Cape Province, between Orange River and Tropic of Capricorn (see Meester et al., 1986:286).
Distribution:Endemic to Southern African Subregion: South Africa (provinces of Eastern and Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and S and W Limpopo; also in Lesotho), S and W Zimbabwe, C Namibia (Granjon et al., 1997b; Skinner and Smithers, 1990; Taylor, 1998).
Status:IUCN Lower Risk (lc).
Comments:Characterized by 2n = 36, FNa = 52-56, and a distinctive hemoglobin electromorph, M. coucha occurs sympatrically with M. natalensis in some areas but allopatrically in other regions of the Southern African Subregion (de Graaff, 1997r); the latter is distinguished by a different hemoglobin pattern (Green et al., 1980), 2n = 32, FN = 54 (Volobouev et al., 2002b), and three isozyme markers (Smit et al., 2001). The two species also differ in cranial, phallic, and spermatozoal morphology as well as reproductive behavior, growth patterns, ultrasonic vocalizations, and pheromones (Breed, 1995a; Dippenaar et al., 1993; Jackson and van Aarde, 2003; Lavrenchenko and Baskevich, 1996; Skinner and Smithers, 1990; Taylor, 2000b; and references cited therein), and can also be separated by principal component analysis of cranial and dental measurements (Dippenaar et al., 1993). Although the two are widely sympatric in southern Africa, their geographic ranges appear concordant with rainfall patterns, with M. coucha predominating in drier habitats characteristic of southwestern Africa and M. natalensis inhabiting more mesic regions in the east (Taylor, 2000b, and references cited therein). Phylogenetic analyses of chromosomal data indicate M. coucha is more closely related to M. huberti and M. natalensis than to M. erythroleucus (Britton-Davidian et al., 1995). Karyotype of M. coucha is similar to M. shortridgei from NE Namibia and NW Botswana, but sex chromosomes differ and the two species can be distinguished by spermatozoal morphology (see references in Granjon et al., 1997b). Synonyms listed are only those pertaining to samples from South Africa for reasons explained by Meester et al. (1986); of these, Robbins and Van der Straeten (1989) regarded marikquensis to be a Myomys (although Van der Straeten and Robbins, 1997, did not include it in their more recent allocation of holotypes to Myomys), and Robbins (in Meester et al., 1986) claimed it may be a species distinct from Myomyscus verreauxii. Reviewed by Granjon et al. (1997b) and de Graaff (1997r).
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Synonyms:

    bradfieldi Roberts, 1926
    breyeri (Roberts, 1915)
    limpopoensis (Roberts, 1914)
    marikquensis (Smith, 1836)
    sicialis Shortridge, 1934
    silaceus (Wagner, 1842)
    socialis (Roberts, 1913)

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