The genetic divergence between the eastern European, southern European, and Asian chromosome forms of the pygmy wood mouse Sylvaemus uralensis, whose karyotypes differ from one another in the amount of centromeric heterochromatin, has been reevaluated using allozyme analysis. In general, Asian chromosome forms in S. uralensis living in eastern Kazakhstan, eastern Turkmenistan (the Kugitang Ridge), and Uzbekistan are more monomorphic than European populations of this species. However, the allozyme differences between all chromosome forms of the pygmy wood mouse are comparable with the interpopulation differences within each form and are an order of magnitude smaller than those between “good” species of the genus Sylvaemus. Thus, the chromosome forms of S. uralensis cannot be considered to be separate species. The concept of races as large population groups that have not diverged enough to regard them as species but differ from one another in some genetic characters is used to describe the differentiation of S. uralensis forms more adequately. The currently available evidence suggests the existence of two S. uralensis races, the Asian and the European ones, and two chromosome forms (eastern and southern) of the European race. The possible historical factors that have determined the formation of the races of the pygmy wood mouse are considered. According to the most plausible hypothesis, the shift and fragmentation of the broad-leaved forest zone during the most recent glacial period (late Pleistocene) were the crucial factors of the formation of these races, because they resulted in a prolonged isolation of the European and Asian population groups ofS. uralensis from each other.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2004
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