Skull features of the common vole (Microtus arvalis sensu lato) from Hungary: craniometrical evidence for its taxonomic detachment


Abstract: A revision was carried out on 245 adult skull specimens of the common vole (Microtus arvalis sensu lato) kept in the mammal collection of the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest. A highly effective craniometric classification function was used to reveal whether they belonged to the common vole (M. arvalis Pallas, 1778 sensu stricto) or to the East European vole (Microtus levis Miller, 1908). It was found that M. levis specimens were present in the Hungarian mammal fauna; the boundaries of that animal's European range were thus expanded in the west. The distribution of the East European vole and the common vole in Hungary showed that both of these vole species occur together in all of the studied regions, with different predominant presence. M. levis occurred in lower numbers than M. arvalis in the western part of the country while the 2 species were relatively equally present in the central part of the country, with an insignificant preponderance of M. arvalis in the northeastern part. Conversely, M. levis had a clearly expressed predominance over M. arvalis in several regions of the northern part of the country. The craniometrical specificity of the 2 vole species in Hungary was characterized on the basis of craniologically determined samples. Craniometrical characteristics of both species showed similar absolute variability of their corresponding parameters with poorly expressed cranial sexual dimorphism.

Keywords: Skull features, Microtus arvalis, Microtus levis, taxonomic detachment, distribution, Hungary

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