Taxonomic delimitation and natural history of some mammals from Atlantic Canada

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2018-12

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Abstract

In a global context, the North American mammal fauna is relatively well-studied. However, because of the high-profile scientific history and achievement of North American mammalogy, there is a perception that taxonomic study of North American mammals has reached its zenith – i.e., some have claimed that we know everything there is to know about North American mammal systematics. For this dissertation, I show that such a perception is unfounded and that questions regarding the taxonomy and natural history of several mammals have yet to be resolved. This dissertation focuses on some of the native terrestrial mammals found in Atlantic Canada. Using various morphometric, statistical analyses, and molecular genetic tools, I addressed the morphology, systematics, and natural history of several species in the region: the long-tailed shrew (Sorex) species complex comprised of rock shrew (S. dispar), Gaspe shrew (S. gaspensis), and smoky shrew (S. fumeus); the taxonomic status of S. gaspensis; the identity of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick; and characterized the external morphology and skulls of bobcat x Canada lynx (Lynx rufus x L. canadensis) hybrids in southern New Brunswick. I demonstrated that the three species of long-tailed shrews can be differentiated craniometrically and that S. f. fumeus is not craniometrically distinctive from S. f. umbrosus. In addition, though the taxonomy of S. gaspensis may be resolved to some, the craniometric data presented here show that S. gaspensis is distinctive from S. dispar and that the former should be considered an evolutionary significant unit with respect to conservation. In studying deer mice on Grand Manan Island, I detected the mitotype of white-footed mouse (P. leucopus), the first record of this austral species for New Brunswick. Finally, I show that bobcat x Canada lynx hybrids are relatively intermediate between their parental species with respect to external and craniodental morphology.

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Keywords

Taxonomy, Atlantic Canada, Mammals, Natural History

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