Taxonomic status of Dahl’s Jird, Meriones dahli, as inferred from cytochrome b and IRBP gene sequences (Mammalia: Rodentia)
Olgun Karacan, Gül
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Dahl’s Jird, Meriones dahli, is distributed in Armenia and eastern Turkey and was previously considered as a subspecies of M. meridianus based on morphological characters. We examined the taxonomic status of Dahl’s Jird using two gene regions, the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) gene and the Inter Retinoid Binding Protein (IRBP), a nuclear gene. Phylogenetic trees and median-joining networks confirmed the close relationship between M. dahli and M. meridianus. The evolutionary divergence time between these populations was estimated 750 Kya, indicating that these populations diverged in the Middle Pleistocene. The genetic distance between M. dahli and M. meridianus was 4% for Cytb and 0.6% for IRBP. In conclusion, we characterized the genetic distance using molecular methods. We propose the relegation of M. dahli back to subspecies status as M. m. dahli.