I just received Vol. 6 of Handbook of Mammals of the World. I get it for free (long story), but since a lot of people probably can’t afford it, perhaps it would be a good idea to post a little summary here.
Just like Vols. 1-5, this one suffers from poor editorship and lack of standardized approach to family accounts. There are tons of errors, typos and inconsistencies; for example, some species accounts provide long lists of subspecies (130+ for Botta’s pocked gopher) without any critical review, while others just say the subspecies don’t deserve to be mentioned (such as in beavers and dormice chapters). Beavers chapter never actually spells out what the differences between the two species are. On the positive side, the book has lots of photos by regular visitors to this site, including seven by yours truly.
The taxonomy mostly follows IUCN Red List, but has even more of pro-split bias (in some cases a species is listed even though evidence mentioned in the text is totally against it, like for the “lined pocket mouse”). Below are some noteworthy changes (I’ll later continue in a separate post).
- Turuchan pika is listed as a species despite molecular evidence. If true, it would be the only endemic vertebrate in a huge chunk of Asia (about 1/2 of Siberia). It’s easy to see, BTW (look on talus slopes above the city of Norilsk, Russia). Korean pika is also listed as separate. It’s also easy to see if you make it to Lake Changbaishan on Chinese-Korean border (highly recommended). Kazakh pika is also split; look for it around Karaganda in (you guessed) Kazakhstan. The Sikkim pika split was published after the book went to press.
- There is some indication that eastern cottontail and tapeti will be split (tapeti has already been split into Central and South American forms).
- European rabbit might be split (the dividing line runs NW to SE across Spain).
- Hare taxonomy is still a total mess; it’s likely that the actual number of species is only half of what is currently listed.
- New pocket mice have been described from Montenegro in Costa Rica, Cerro Blanco in Ecuador, and Rancho Grande in Venezuela. They are large species, and if you’ve trapped there, you’ve probably seen them. I think I even have a couple photos somewhere.
- Great Basin pocket mouse is finally split; the new species is called Columbia Plateau p. m. and occurs from BC to Oregon and Idaho.
- Both kangaroo mice might be split. There are some interesting issues with them; I’ll post about them separately.
- There are lots of pocket gopher splits, mostly in Mexico but also in US Midwest. I’ll have to look at primary literature to see what evidence there is.
- Springhare is split into East African and South African species.
If you’d like more details on any of these changes, please let me know.