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 algorithm. 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.