Mitochondrial phylogeny reveals cryptic genetic diversity in the genus Niviventer (Rodentia, Muroidea)
cryptic species, species
Abstract Niviventer is a muroid genus with 17 species widely distributed in East and Southeast Asia. These animals are important components of both extant and fossil small mammal communities, and they are among the most common infectious agents in humans. In this study, we employed partitioned Bayesian and relaxed clock divergence dating analyses and included the Niviventer mitochondrial cytochrome b genes of from GenBank (n = 223). Although the intra-generic relationships were not fully resolved, we recognized four major clades/subclades that could support further division of the genus. Paraphyletic and polyphyletic species were discovered, and 21 putative species were recognized through species delimitation analysis, which indicated an imperfect taxonomy and the existent of cryptic species. Molecular dating supported Niviventer origination in the late Miocene, and relatively higher diversification rates were observed in the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene, which might correlate with climate fluctuations.