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Subspeciation in the Meadow Mouse, Microtus montanus, in Wyoming and Colorado   By: (1927-)

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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Volume 7, No. 7, pp. 489 506, 2 figures in text

July 23, 1954

Subspeciation in the Meadow Mouse, Microtus montanus, in Wyoming and Colorado

BY

SYDNEY ANDERSON

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS

LAWRENCE

1954

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Editors: E. Raymond Hall, Chairman, A. Byron Leonard, Robert W. Wilson

Volume 7, No. 7, pp. 489 506, 2 figures in text

Published July 23, 1954

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS

Lawrence, Kansas

PRINTED BY

FERD VOILAND, JR., STATE PRINTER

TOPEKA, KANSAS

1954

25 3560

Subspeciation in the Meadow Mouse, Microtus montanus, in Wyoming and Colorado

BY

SYDNEY ANDERSON

Microtus montanus reaches the eastern limits of its geographic distribution in Wyoming and Colorado. There the mountains, but in general not the lowlands, are occupied by this species. A certain minimum of moisture may be of direct importance to the mouse and certainly is indirectly important, because certain hydrophytic or mesophytic grasses used by the mouse for food, for protection from enemies, and for shelter from the elements are dependent on the moisture. Areas suitable for Microtus montanus are separated by deserts that are dominated by sagebrush and other xerophytic plants or by forests or rocky exposures at higher altitudes. A relatively small percentage, probably less than ten per cent, of the total area even in the more favorable parts of the range of the species is suitable for occupancy. In these mice, as in other microtines (Elton, 1942; Piper, 1909), there are seasonal, and irregularly multiannual fluctuations in population density, which sometimes are extreme. Consequently the mice at some times seem to be absent from suitable habitats, and at some other times occur there in amazingly large numbers.

Because the species is broken up into partly isolated, or at times completely isolated, colonies or local populations it may be supposed that various evolutionary forces such as selection and random genetic drift operate to foster variation. The degree to which racial distinction is attained may depend upon these forces and the time available. In Microtus montanus in the eastern Rocky Mountains the degree of subspecific distinction is not great.

The study here reported upon is based on 1,187 specimens of Microtus montanus from Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Montana, and on work in the field. I spent approximately four months in the field in this area, in the summers of 1950, 1951, and 1952. The specimens studied were arranged according to localities and the larger series were compared statistically. Each of two series, totaling 136 specimens, was studied intensively to ascertain the kind and range of variation within single populations. Twenty seven measurements, various proportions based on these measurements, and differences in color were analyzed. Fifteen characters, judged to be most significant, were selected for use in comparing all series. In addition, certain characters that can not be expressed easily by measurements, such as inflation of the auditory bullae and the curvature of the zygomatic arch, were observed. The studies by A. B. Howell (1924) of variation in Microtus montanus yosemite Grinnell in California and those by O. B. Goin (1943) of Microtus pennsylvanicus pennsylvanicus (Ord) were useful. The external measurements are from the collectors' field labels. The measurements of the skull all were taken with dial calipers reading to a tenth of a millimeter. The anteroposterior measurements of the skull all were taken along the shortest line between the points specified below and are not necessarily along a line parallel to the long axis of the skull. These measurements were taken on the left side of the skull whenever possible... Continue reading book >>




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