Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Geographic variation and taxonomy of the marbled polecat Vormela peregusna (#409)

Alexei V. Abramov 1 , Andrey Yu. Puzachenko 2 , Viatcheslav V. Rozhnov 3
  1. Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, Russia
  2. Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  3. A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

The distribution range of the marbled polecat Vormela peregusna extends from southeast Europe, through Asia Minor and Middle East, the Caucasus and Middle Asia, to Mongolia and northern China. Geographic variation of the species was studied across the whole distribution range. Analysis of the cranial variation revealed two morphological groups – western and eastern. These groups were treated as two distinct subspecies. Nominotypical V. p. peregusna (Güldenstädt, 1770) (syn. sarmatica, euxina) is found in southern and eastern Europe, Asia Minor and Caucasus. The eastern subspecies V. p. koshewnikowi Satunin, 1910 (syn. alpherakii, chinensis, negans, obscura, ornata, pallidior, syriaca, and tedshenika) is found south and east of the Middle East, in Middle and Central Asia and eastward to China. Our data revealed a gradual decrease in the morphological diversity in Vormela skulls from west to east in the distribution range. This pattern can be explained by later occupation of the eastern part of the modern species' range. The pattern of geographic variation, revealed in this study, might reflect the Pleistocene history of the species' range formation rather than relate to a gradient of climate conditions throughout the modern species' range. We assume two routes of migration of the marbled polecat from the western part of the range: 1) northern route – from southeastern Europe and Caucasus through Middle Asia and Kazakhstan territories to Mongolia and China, 2) southern route – from Asia Minor and Transcaucasia regions to the Middle East, the south of Middle Asia and Central Asia, including China.