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SPECIES Dendromus insignis

Author:Thomas, 1903.
Citation:Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., ser. 7, 12: 341.
Common Name:Montane African Climbing Mouse
Type Locality:Kenya, Nandi.
Distribution:Discontinuous in bamboo, heath, and alpine zones, ca. 3000-4700 m, of East Africa—Ethiopia (Yalden et al., 1976, 1996; AMNH 81105) through W Kenya (Hollister, 1919; AMNH, MCZ, and USNM series) and Mt Elgon on the Kenya-Uganda border (Clausnitzer, 2001; reported as mesomelas), to Mt Kilimanjaro (Shore and Garbett, 1991; Grimshaw et al., 1995; FMNH specimens); also Western Rift mountains from W Uganda (Rwenzoris, Kerbis Peterhans et al., 1998) south to W Rwanda and E Dem. Rep. Congo (Kivu region; large samples in AMNH, BMNH, and FMNH); distributional extent unknown.
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (lc).
Comments:Although insignis has been included in D. mesomelas (Bohmann, 1942; Misonne, 1974), Thomas (1916b) cautioned that the "lumping of insignis with the southern D. mesomelas" appeared to be "unfounded," an evaluation sustained by specimen study. Dendromus insignis is distinguished easily from the South African D. mesomelas by larger body size, shorter pelage, darker upperparts with a more prominent stripe, dark gray or grayish buff underparts (white washed with buff or ochraceous in D. mesomelas), larger skull and longer molar rows, and interorbital and postorbital shape. Bohmann (1939) described the large-bodied kilimandjari as a subspecies of D. mesomelas, but the name identifies another montane population of D. insignis (study of BMNH paratypes); Thomas (1916b) explained why percivali is a synonym; and allocation of abyssinicus is based upon our inspection of the FMNH holotype. Prior to 1991, most literature references to D. mesomelas in mountains north of the Southern African Subregion actually represent either D. insignis or D. nyasae (see account), which may co-occur in the Western Rift mountains. In the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda, D. insignis and D. nyasae (recorded as kivu) occur together in the moorlands above 3000 m (Kerbis Peterhans et al., 1998). On Mt Kilimanjaro, D. insignis inhabits heath and alpine zones, 3500-4700 m, and the savannah species, D. melanotis, is found near the forest margin, 1500 m (Grimshaw et al., 1995).



    abyssinicus Osgood, 1936
    kilimandjari Bohmann, 1939
    percivali Heller, 1912

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