Phylogeny, taxonomic reassessment and 'ecomorph' relationship of the Orientallactaga sibirica complex (Rodentia: Dipodidae: Allactaginae)

Jilong Cheng, Lin Xia, Anderson Feijó, Georgy I. Shenbrot, Zhixin Wen, Deyan Ge, Liang Lu, Qisen Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The ecological gradient-morphological variation ('ecomorph') relationship has long interested ecologists and evolutionary biologists, but it is applied far less frequently than genetic differentiation in cryptic species detection and species identification. With integrative methods, we revise taxonomic uncertainties in the Orientallactaga sibirica complex (OSC), with 298 sequence specimens and 469 voucher specimens from 138 localities covering nearly the entire distribution of the OSC. Phylogenetic relationships are assessed by Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood using two mitochondrial and nine nuclear genes. We use species-delimitation approaches to divide and validate the 'candidate species'. We evaluate correlations between ecological divergence and phylogenetic splits, and visualize geographical patterns of morphological variation. The OSC is divided into four phylogenetic groups, the Ognevi, Altay, Bogda and Sibirica groups, and the OSC exhibits a significant ecomorph relationship and ecological divergence pattern. Morphological variations not only follow the general regularity under a large gradient of ecological factors, but are also closely related to the local environment/habitat. We suggest considering the comprehensive ecomorph relationship to identify species. Molecular analyses reveal that the OSC more easily forms deeply divergent lineages in the foothills and this differentiation depth may be related to mountain system size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-205
Number of pages21
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2021


  • Dipodoidea
  • Eurasia
  • desert species
  • ecological divergence
  • morphological variation
  • species delimitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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