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GENUS Praomys

Author:Thomas, 1915.
Citation:Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., ser. 8, 15: 4.
Type Species:Epimys tullbergi Thomas, 1894.

StenocephalemysDivision. Myomyscus (or Myomys), Mastomys, and Hylomyscus have been united with Praomys as subgenera (D. H. S. Davis, 1965; Misonne, 1974), but are treated as separate genera here and by other workers such as Rosevear (1969), who also reviewed the taxonomic history of some species in Praomys as well as its generic status relative to the other genera allied with it. Cladistic analyses of morphological variation has also supported the monophyly of Mastomys, Myomyscus, and Hylomyscus relative to Praomys, but also revealed that the latter is paraphyletic, consisting of a monophyletic P. tullbergi group that is separate from the other Praomys sampled (members of the P. jacksoni and P. delectorum clusters), which may have to be contained in a separate genus (Lecompte et al., 2002a). This pattern has been confirmed by analyses of complete mtDNA cytochrome b sequences (Lecompte et al., 2002b). Van der Straeten and Dieterlen (1987) and Van der Straeten and Dudu (1990) provided brief reviews of the historical and current allocations of forms to the P. tullbergi, P. jacksoni, and P. delectorum complexes. Chromosomal and biochemical traits reviewed or referenced by Qumsiyeh et al. (1990), who combined Myomys (= Myomyscus) and Mastomys with Praomys. Additional chromosomal information recorded by Maddalena et al. (1989). Although variously claimed to be closely related to Mus and Apodemus (Sarich, 1985), Millardia (Misonne, 1969), or Rattus (Ellerman, 1941), results of DNA/DNA hybridization (Chevret et al., 1994) and analysis of microcomplement fixation of albumin (Watts and Baverstock, 1995a) demonstrate distant affinity to those genera and instead collectively group Praomys with Mastomys, Myomys (=Myomyscus), and Hylomyscus. Praomys is the core of a "Praomys group" as reported in the literature also containing Heimyscus, Hylomyscus, Mastomys, Myomyscus, and Stenocephalemys (for example, Lecompte et al., 2001, 2002a, b), which is equivalent to our Stenocephalemys Division.

Defining limits of species within Praomys has been the research focus of several mammalian systematists, among them Eric van der Straeten and his colleagues, with whom he has published a series of informative reports covering Praomys taxonomy and increasing our knowledge about the number of species and their characteristics. Van der Straeten and Dudu (1990) and Van der Straeten and Kerbis Peterhans (1999) recognized four species groups. One is the P. jacksoni complex, which includes the species degraaffi, jacksoni, minor, montis, mutoni, peromyscus, sudanensis, viator, and at least one undescribed species. Of these, only degraaffi, minor, and mutoni have been adequately defined and their geographic ranges documented; the four others are treated here as synonyms of P. jacksoni. A second is the P. tullbergi complex containing misonnei, morio, rostratus, tullbergi, petteri, hartwigi, and obscurus (Hutterer et al., 1992a; Lecompte et al., 1999; Van der Straeten et al., 2003). A third is the P. delectorum complex and consisting of delectorum, melanotus, octomastis, and taitae. The latter three taxa have yet to be differentially diagnosed and their geographic ranges unambiguously defined; we include them here under P. delectorum. The fourth is the P. lukolelae complex encompassing lukolelae (treated as a species of Malacomys by Musser and Carleton, 1993) "and probably verschureni (described as Malacomys)" (Van der Straeten and Kerbis Peterhans, 1999:89). Van der Straeten and Kerbis Peterhans (1999:89) commented that "each of these species-complexes consists of several well-defined and closely related species. Differences between these species-complexes are also well marked. We believe that elevation of these species-complexes to the status of genera should be considered. For example, the morphological differences between the P. tullbergi species-complex and the P. jacksoni species-complex are equal to those between Lemniscomys and Rhabdomys." This is a hypothesis that has to be tested with morphological and molecular data within a framework surveying all African murine genera, not just Praomys. Cladistic analyses of morphological variation does support the generic separation of the P. tullbergi group (Lecompte et al., 2002a) from the P. jacksoni cluster, as does phylogenetic analyses of complete mtDNA cytochrome b sequences (Lecompte et al., 2002b). We add a fifth group to Praomys composed of P. daltoni and P. derooi, which are usually allocated to Myomys (= Myomyscus; Musser and Carleton, 1993; Rosevear, 1969; Van der Straeten, 1979; Van der Straeten and Verheyen, 1978b; see those accounts)

Principle components analysis of most holotypes associated with Praomys was presented by Van der Straeten and Robbins (1997); the specimens tended to form a cluster separate from those containing holotypes of Mastomys and Hylomyscus. Lecompte et al. (2001) offered a taxonomic key to the species of Praomys (except P. lukolelae and P. verschureni), and summaries of their geographical distributions and chromosomal traits.

Extant species of Praomys now occur primarily in Subsaharan forest and tree savanna habitats, but the genus is represented by P. skouri from late Pliocene sediments in Morocco, when the environment may have been similar to present conditions in East and South Africa (Geraads, 1995; Geraads et al., 1998), and by P. darelbeidae from the middle Pleistocene of that country, a time of open, dry environments (Geraads, 1994). Praomys skouri has also been found in early Pleistocene of Tunisia, along with several other extinct Praomys at different Pleistocene intervals (Mein and Pickford, 1992). Berberomys was proposed as a subgenus for the Moroccan P. skouri, but its diagnostic traits also apply to an extinct species described as a Mastomys recovered from sediments at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania (Geraads, 1995). Late Pliocene of Ethiopia (hadar) is the oldest documented Subsaharan record of Praomys (Denys, 1999; Sabatier, 1982), but apparently strata in Chad have yielded an even older occurrence (early Pliocene) about 5 million years before present (Denys, pers. comm., in Lecompte, 2003).

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SPECIES daltoni

SPECIES degraaffi

SPECIES delectorum

SPECIES derooi

SPECIES hartwigi

SPECIES jacksoni

SPECIES lukolelae


SPECIES misonnei


SPECIES mutoni

SPECIES obscurus

SPECIES petteri

SPECIES rostratus

SPECIES tullbergi

SPECIES verschureni


    Berberomys Jaeger, 1975

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