Systematics, distribution, and zoogeography of mammals of Tunisia
Gharaibeh, Burhan M.
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The taxonomic identity of each species of mammals that occurs in the Republic of Tunisia, North Africa has been determined to the subspecific level. History of names was followed and descriptions of types were studied to better provide opinions on the nomenclamre and minimize the confusion existing in the literature concerning the taxonomic identity of many Tunisian species. Keys to distinguish related taxa were constructed and maps depicting the distribution of species within the borders of Tunisia and in the whole North African region were drawn. These maps show original records obtained during this study as well records reported in the literature. Furthermore, the available natural history information on the Tunisian mammal fauna and background information on the vegetation, rainfall, topography, and land forms of the country were presented. Chromosomal G-band data for Merlones shawl from Tunisia, hitherto unavailable, was used to reexamine proposed chromosomal homologies and update the phylogenetic tree of Family Gerbillidae. G-banded chromosomal complement for Jaculus orlentalls was reported. Notable differences in pelage color were seen between populations of the North African elephant shrew, Elephantulus rozetl in northern and southern Tunisia. However, no disjunction was seen in morphometric measurements analyzed using principal components analysis (PCA). Differences in pelage color between 5 populations of Gerblllus campestrls are discussed. Two populations of this gerbil, one on the Island of Djerba and the other around Medenine deserve systematic studies using molecular data or multivariate analyses of morphometric measurements. Differences in pelage color, mandibular foramina number, color of foot pad hair and other characters between 2 populations of Jaculus jaculus were also noted and further investigation of the taxonomic status recommended. Zoogeographical analyses of the mammalian faunal elements in Tunisia and the whole area were made. Two groups of bats were recognized. Bat fauna that invaded Tunisia from the north, and one that invaded from the south. Land mammals were in three groups: strictly Mediterranean zone, widely-distributed Mediterranean, and Saharan mammals. Species richness in quadrates 1° latimde X 1° longitude spanning Tunisia was discussed. The species richness provided evidence to areas of high biodiversity. Areas that deserve conservation are Djebel Zaghouan, Ghardimaou, Tamerza-Kasserine, and Dahar-Djeffara plain. Finally, conclusions and recommendations for future mammalian studies in the area were suggested.