Pleistocene history of Iberomys, an endangered endemic rodent from southwestern Europe

Gloria Cuenca-Bescós, Juan Manuel López-García, María Angeles Galindopellicena, Rosa García-Perea, Julio Gisbert, Juan Rofes, Jacint Ventura

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31 Citations (Scopus)


© 2013 International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd. The extant Cabrera's vole, Microtus cabrerae, differs in morphology and evolutionary history from the other species of Microtus. This arvicoline has unique derived features in the cranium, mandible and dentition. Probably its most conspicuous features are its large size, the high skull in lateral view, the long and distally broad nasals, and the triangle shape of the anteroconid complex, with a marked labio-lingual asymmetry of the occlusal surface of the first lower molars. In this study, we propose a phylogenetic lineage that includes Cabrera's vole in what until now has been the Microtus subgenus Iberomys. Paleontological information and several life history traits support the elevation of Iberomys to the rank of genus. Genus Iberomys comprises species that have appeared in succession during the Quaternary: in the Early Pleistocene, the extinct I. huescarensis in the Middle Pleistocene, the extinct I. mediterraneus and in the Late Pleistocene, the extant I. cabrerae. Interestingly, the extant species shows several biological singularities, such as multiple polymorphic copies of the SRY male-specific gene in both males and females, and the lowest basal metabolic rate in relation to weight among arvicoline species. Likewise, its habitat requirement is unique among the Iberian arvicolines. Accordingly, the biological and paleontological data that we present in this work support the elevation of its taxonomic rank to that of genus. This study also suggests a modification of nomenclature: Microtus (Iberomys) brecciensis is replaced with I. mediterraneus and the common name of the extant M. (I.) cabrerae changed from 'topillo' to 'iberon' to improve conservation and protection actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-497
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cabrera's vole
  • Conservation
  • Iberoccitanian endemism
  • Iberomys
  • Origin


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