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Evolution of an invasive rodent on an archipelago as revealed by molar shape analysis: the house mouse in the Canary Islands

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Abstract Aim 

The aim of this paper is to identify the patterns in the morphological differentiation in Canary Island mice, based on fossil and modern samples. In order to achieve this, the mouse species present on the archipelago were first compared with a set of continental mice. The differences between the continental and Canary Island samples, and among the Canary Island samples, provide insights into the processes of colonization and the subsequent insular evolution. Location 

Canary archipelago. Methods 

An outline analysis based on Fourier transformation was used to quantify shape differences between lower molars. Together with the fossil and modern Canary Island samples, a reference set of genotyped continental populations of the commensal Mus musculus and the wild Mus spretus was used for comparison. Results 

The morphometric analysis showed that all the mouse specimens from the Canary Islands and Cape Verde belonged to Mus musculus domesticus. Lower molars of extant mice from La Gomera, El Hierro, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and to a lesser degree from Lanzarote, were similar to those of genotyped M. m. domesticus from the continent, while teeth of extant mice from Fuerteventura were more divergent. Fossil mice from Fuerteventura were very similar to the extant representatives on this island, and similar to the fossil mice on the nearby islands of Lobos and La Graciosa. Main conclusions 

The mouse present on the Canary archipelago has been identified as the house mouse M. m. domesticus. Based on the shape of the lower molar, the Canary Island mice are divergent from the continental ones, but the degree of divergence varies with the geography of the archipelago. Overall, populations from eastern islands are more divergent from the continental mice than populations from western ones. Fossil populations indicate that this situation was established several centuries ago. Two main factors may have contributed to this pattern: the appearance of different types of environment on the islands since the successful settlement of the mouse, and/or the number of subsequent introductions of continental individuals via shipping.
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Keywords: Anthropization; Fourier transform; Late Holocene; Mus musculus domesticus; colonization; geometric morphometry; human migration; insular syndrome; island biogeography; zooarchaeology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Paléoenvironnements et Paléobiosphère, UMR 5125 CNRS: Université Lyon 1, Bât. Géode, 2 rue Dubois, Campus de la Doua, 69622 Villeurbanne, France 2: Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre, Calle Fuente Morales s/n, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain 3: Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Section of Mammals, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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