Nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies provide evidence for four species of Eurasian badgers (Carnivora)

Irene Del Cerro, Josep Marmi, Aïnhoa Ferrando, Pavel Chashchin, Pierre Taberlet, Montse Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Eurasian badgers (Meles spp.) have a fairly widespread distribution in the Palearctic region and their great morphological variability throughout the vast geographic area has nourished an intense debate about the classification of this taxon. Therefore, the aim of this study was to clarify controversies in Eurasian badger taxonomy by means of a new molecular phylogeny. One-hundred and seventeen individuals of Eurasian badgers from 18 countries throughout Eurasia were sequenced for up to 3257 bp of nuclear DNA over six loci (ACTC, BGN, CFTR, CHRNA1, TS and TTR) and 512 bp of the mitochondrial DNA control region. Statistical and phylogenetic analyses for combined nDNA, mtDNA and the total-evidence data clearly showed a strong genetic differentiation in four well-supported clades, three of which corresponded to allopatric badger species previously defined according to morphological data: Meles meles Linnaeus, 1758 in Europe; Meles leucurus Hodgson, 1847 in the continental part of Asia, except the south-west part; and M. anakuma Temminck, 1844 in Japan. Up to now, the fourth clade, made up of individuals from south-west Asia, had been considered as a subspecies. Supported by several pieces of morphological evidence, the new phylogeny revealed that it is necessary to revise the current taxonomic classification of Meles spp. and suggested that the badgers from south-west Asia should be recognised as a separate species, being renamed M. canescens Blanford, 1875. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-425
JournalZoologica Scripta
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010

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