Molecular systematics of dormice (Rodentia: Gliridae) and the radiation of Graphiurus in Africa

Montgelard C. ; Matthee C.A. ; Robinson T.J. (2003)


The phylogenetic relationships among the Gliridae (order Rodentia) were assessed using 3430 nucleotides derived from three nuclear fragments (β-spectrin non-erythrocytic 1, thyrotropin and lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase) and one mitochondrial gene (12S rRNA). We included 14 glirid species, representative of seven genera of the three recognized subfamilies (Graphiurinae, Glirinae and Leithiinae) in our analysis. The molecular data identified three evolutionary lineages that broadly correspond to the three extant subfamilies. However, the data suggest that the genus Muscardinus, previously regarded as falling within the Glirinae, should be included in the Leithiinae. Molecular dating using local molecular clocks and partitioned datasets allowed an estimate of the timing of cladogenesis within the glirids. Graphiurus probably diverged early in the group's evolution (40-50 Myr ago) and the three subfamilies diverged contemporaneously, probably in Europe. The radiation within Graphiurus is more recent, with the colonization of Africa by this lineage estimated at ca. 8-10 Myr ago.

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