Taxonomy news

A couple taxonomy news:
1. Peromyscus mice are usually very easy to ID even in areas with many species present, so I’m sure nobody will be confused by yet another species being described from central Mexico. I haven’t read the paper yet; will wait until it’s on sci-hub… sorry, I mean, until I have money to buy access.
2. There is a new theory on the identity of small wolves/jackals from Afar region. Look for them in Awash NP (see my 2009 trip report).


  • Theo Linders

    With regards to the proposed Afar Jackal split, the paper is not convincing at all. They present hardly any morphological and evolutionary data and exactly 0 genetics work. There is nothing that proves it could be a separate species instead of just an ecomorph.

    • Vladimir Dinets

      Of course. You can’t do taxonomy based on photos, particularly in a group with such huge intraspecific variability and tendency for hybridization. But the authors are known supporters of Groves’ approach to taxonomy, which says splitting is always justified if you are enjoying it and are a consenting adult.

  • Theo Linders

    I know Gippoliti’s work, which includes such convincing articles as splitting Bongo and papers bashing anyone who doesn’t buy extreme versions of the PSC…. So it is not very surprising, but then it is no wonder many people dislike taxonomists :p.

    Slightly related: I heard that Lynx Edicions would rework their mammal taxonomy to make it more uniform, have you heard anything about it and does it mean we end up with a gazillion species of Red Deer or will they (finally) lump Klipspringer and many others?

  • Vladimir Dinets

    I don’t know. They can’t edit a printed book, so I guess it means they are going to launch an online version, which is good news. They received a lot of criticism for their ungulates volume, so I hope they’ll try to make it a bit more scientific… but they did some weird shenanigans in HBW, so prepare for surprises.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Speaking of oversplitting, here’s more evidence that Cozumel raccoon should be considered a subspecies of northern raccoon:

    • Venkat Sankar

      Interesting… It looks like these are the “Peromyscus maniculatus” that are recorded in survey reports as commonly caught in some high-elevation sites of the Tarascan Plateau near Uruapan, Michoacan. Btw a really cool area with a lot of other endemic mammals e.g. Peromyscus hylocetes and kilpatricki, Reithrodontomys zacatecae, Sigmodon alleni, Cratogeomys fumosus, and (endemic genus) Zygogeomys trichopus. Relatively safe and well worth visiting. Great for conifers too.

      I’ve also not heard of P. labecula before. It seems like that’s what they’re calling P. maniculatus (which needs to be split anyway) of the semiarid Mexican Plateau.

      • Vladimir Dinets

        P. m. labecula is a subspecies supposedly occurring all over the mountains from Durango to Michoacan and Morelos. The authors of the paper apparently followed Bradley et al. (2019) in considering it a full species which included P. m. fulvus (Puebla and Veracruz to C Oaxaca) and all NW Mexican forms as subspecies, but then their data showed labecula from the eastern part of the range to be nested within P. m. sonoriensis, so it should probably be called P. sonoriensis fulvus. I wonder which one is in Distrito Federal – I guess it’s P. labecula labecula, at least in the south. “Pure” labecula is very common in monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Michoacan.

        Interestingly, the authors are apparently confirming P. arcticus as a full species. It has complex taxonomic history: the authors of one of the papers proposing splitting it later kinda disavowed it (one of them was a co-author on N Am checklist where it wasn’t even mentioned). That’s interesting because the range of P. arcticus is in S Yukon in an area that was supposedly fully glaciated just 12 kya.

        Bradley et al. 2019 paper is here. It is entirely mtDNA-based, uses PSC, and proposes recognizing P. sejugis as a full species even though the presented data doesn’t really support this. Other than that, I am inclined to accept splitting P. maniculatus, but some details still need to be worked out.

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