Morphmetric comparison of fourteen species of the genus Meriones Illiger, 1811 (Gerbillinae, Rodentia) from Asia and North Africa

Document Type : Research articles



In order to determine the interspecific differences, morphometric characters of
external, skull and tooth row variables- of different populations of fourteen
species of Jird: Meriones persicus; M. rex; M. hurrianae; M. tristrami; M. tamariscinus;
M. vinogradovi; M. meridianus; M. unguiculatus; M.crassus; M. shawi; M. sacramenti; M.
libycus. M. zarudnyi and M. grandis were investigated in a wide range from North
Africa to Central Asia. The material came from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel,
Morocco, Jordan, Russia, Mongolia, and Turkmenistan.
Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed, euclidian distance between
samples was computed and the corresponding distance matrix was used to
represent a dendrogram and unrooted tree using the Minimum Spanning Tree
The length of hind foot, ear, mandible and auditory bulla are highly important in
making distinction between the species. The ratio of tympanic bulla length to the
length of skull shows the presence of two adaptive groups: One with relatively
small tympanic bulla which include M. persicus, M. tristrami, M. vinogradovi, M. shawi,
M. grandis, M. zarudnyi, M. rex, M. sacramenti and M. hurrianae and the other with
relatively large bulla which include M. crassus, M. libycus, M. tamariscinus, M.
meridianus and M. unguiculatus. The Minimum Spanning Tree method showed that
all species of Jird could be regrouped into two branches: one with small, and the
other with medium and large overall size. This difference may reflect geographic
and adaptive statue of different species of Jirds.