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GENUS Microtus

Author:Schrank, 1798.
Citation:Fauna Boica, 1(1): 72.
Type Species:Microtus terrestris Schrank, 1798 (= Mus arvalis Pallas, 1778).

Arvicolini. Nowhere are the explosiveness and recency of arvicoline evolution more dramatically highlighted than by the inconsistency of systematic treatment of genus-group taxa to be subsumed by Microtus. Little consensus exists concerning the morphological limits or monophyly of many of these taxa, a situation that partly reflects the overly narrow reliance of our classifications on dental characters undergoing rapid change (see Guthrie, 1971; Koenigswald, 1980). The recency of speciation is another contributory factor—Conroy and Cook (2000a) dated the major pulse of diversification within Microtus as only 1.3 million years ago. See accounts of Blanfordimys, Chionomys, Lasiopodomys, Neodon, Phaiomys, and Proedromys, often included in Microtus but which are here treated as genera.

North American forms revised by Bailey (1900) and taxonomy updated by Hall and Cockrum (1953) and Hall (1981); many aspects of anatomy, paleontology, taxonomy, and zoogeography covered in Tamarin (1985). See R. A. Martin (1995) for comments on the usage of Pedomys and Pitymys as subgenera of Microtus and classification of fossil forms. The more diverse Palearctic fauna is covered in several comprehensive synopses (Corbet, 1978c; Gromov and Erbajeva, 1995; Gromov and Polyakov, 1977; Meyer et al., 1996; Mitchell-Jones et al., 1999; Niethammer and Krapp, 1982a; Ognev, 1963b, 1964; Pavlinov et al., 1995a). See Pozdnyakov (1996) for summary of morphological and chromosomal variation within the subgenus Alexandromys and arrangement of species groups. Fossil Microtus are known from the late Pliocene of Eurasia and North America (Chaline et al., 1999; McKenna and Bell, 1997; Repenning, 1992; Van der Muelen, 1978). The genus is generally thought to have been derived from the Pliocene Allophaiomys, either directly for some North American and European species (Chaline et al., 1999; Repenning, 1992) or indirectly through a morphological intermediate similar to Lasiopodomys (Repenning, 1992); Kotlia (1994), on the other hand, suggested direct descent from the Pliocene Mimomys in S Asia.

The Holarctic distribution of Microtus (see map in Gromov and Erbajeva, 1995) has spawned two principal scenarios of zoogeographic interpretation. The traditional notion has emphasized multiple intercontinental dispersals and broad transcontinental distributions of subgenera, a viewpoint more often propounded by paleontologists (R. A. Martin, 1974, 1987; Repenning, 1980, 1983, 1992, 1998; Repenning et al., 1990; Van der Muelen, 1978). An alternative hypothesis stresses one or two intercontinental dispersions and extensive regional cladogenesis; such a viewpoint has gained more credence, emerging from studies of allozymes (Chaline and Graf, 1988; Graf, 1982; Moore and Janecek, 1990), chromosomes (Zagorodnyuk, 1990), mitochondrial DNA (Conroy and Cook, 1999, 2000a; Conroy et al., 2001), and fossils (Brunet-Lecomte and Chaline, 1991, 1992; Chaline, 1974; Chaline et al., 1999; Kryštufek et al., 1996; R. A. Martin, 1995). According to these collective results, pitymyine forms in the Old World (Terricola) differentiated independently of those in the New World (Pedomys, Pitymys); New World common voles (Mynomes) are cladistically separated from Old World subgenera such as Microtus proper, Alexandromys, and Agricola; and the invasion of the New World semiaquatic niche is recognized (subgenus Aulacomys) as independent of the Old World water‑vole radiation (genus Arvicola). See especially Conroy and Cook (2000a) for review of these hypotheses and comments on taxonomy and biogeography.

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SPECIES abbreviatus

SPECIES californicus

SPECIES chrotorrhinus

SPECIES guatemalensis

SPECIES longicaudus

SPECIES mexicanus

SPECIES miurus

SPECIES richardsoni

SPECIES umbrosus

SPECIES xanthognathus


SPECIES agrestis

SPECIES anatolicus

SPECIES arvalis

SPECIES cabrerae

SPECIES dogramacii

SPECIES guentheri

SPECIES ilaeus



SPECIES paradoxus

SPECIES qazvinensis

SPECIES schidlovskii

SPECIES socialis

SPECIES tatricus

SPECIES transcaspicus

SUBGENUS Terricola

SPECIES bavaricus

SPECIES brachycercus

SPECIES daghestanicus

SPECIES duodecimcostatus

SPECIES felteni

SPECIES gerbei

SPECIES liechtensteini

SPECIES lusitanicus

SPECIES majori

SPECIES multiplex


SPECIES schelkovnikovi

SPECIES subterraneus

SPECIES thomasi


SPECIES breweri

SPECIES canicaudus

SPECIES montanus

SPECIES oregoni

SPECIES pennsylvanicus

SPECIES townsendii

SUBGENUS Alexandromys

SPECIES clarkei

SPECIES evoronensis

SPECIES fortis

SPECIES kikuchii

SPECIES limnophilus

SPECIES maximowiczii

SPECIES middendorffii

SPECIES mongolicus

SPECIES montebelli

SPECIES mujanensis

SPECIES oeconomus

SPECIES sachalinensis

SUBGENUS Stenocranius

SPECIES gregalis


SPECIES oaxacensis

SPECIES pinetorum

SPECIES quasiater


SPECIES ochrogaster


    Agricola Blasius, 1857
    Ammomys Bonaparte, 1831
    Arbusticola Shidlovsky, 1919
    Arvalomys Chaline, 1974
    Aulacomys Rhoads, 1894
    Bicunedens Hodgson, 1863
    Campicola Schulze, 1890
    Campicoloma Strand, 1928
    Chilotus Baird, 1857
    Euarvicola Acloque, 1899
    Herpetomys Merriam, 1898
    Iberomys Chaline, 1972
    Isodelta Cope, 1871
    Meridiopitymys Chaline, 1974
    Micrurus Major, 1877
    Oecomicrotus Rabeder, 1981
    Orthriomys Merriam, 1898
    Pallasiinus Kretzoi, 1964
    Parapitymys Chaline, 1978
    Pinemys Lesson, 1836
    Psammomys Le Conte, 1830
    Steneocranius Trouessart, 1904
    Sumeriomys Argyropulo, 1933
    Suranomys Chaline, 1972
    Sylvicola Fatio, 1867
    Tetramerodon Rhoads, 1894
    Tibercola Koenigswald, Fejfar, and Tchernov, 1992
    Tyrrhenicola Major, 1905

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