VMNH Publications

Scientific Publications from the Virginia Museum of Natural History

Jeffersoniana 21

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Morphometric and Allozymic Variation in the Southeastern Shrew (Sorex longirostris)

by Wm. David Webster, Nancy D. Moncrief, Becky E. Gurshaw, Janet L. Loxterman, Robert K. Rose, John F. Pagels, and Sandra Y. Erdle
published 31 October 2009

ABSTRACT
Morphometric and allozymic variation was examined in specimens of Sorex longirostris to assess the status of S. l. fisheri, which is thought to be restricted to the Great Dismal Swamp region of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Significant geographic variation was detected in all cranial and external measurements and in body mass. Shrews from southeastern Virginia and throughout eastern North Carolina (S. l. fisheri Merriam 1895) are large overall but they have relatively narrow crania. Shrews from southern Georgia and Florida (S. l. eionis Davis 1957) also are large but they have relatively short tails. Shrews from elsewhere in the range of the species (S. l. longirostris Bachman 1837) are relatively small in all cranial and external dimensions and in body mass. Five of 25 genetic loci examined by starch-gel electrophoresis were variable, with one allele (MPIC) occurring only in shrews from southeastern Virginia and several sites in eastern North Carolina. Allozymic evidence for intergradation was demonstrated through the presence of the MPIC allele in specimens from central North Carolina that morphologically were assigned to S. l. longirostris. Shrews from the Lower Coastal Plain of eastern North Carolina were allozymically more similar to animals from the Great Dismal Swamp, the type locality of S. l. fisheri, than to shrews from western North Carolina and Virginia (S. l. longirostris). Thus, based on morphometric and allozymic information, we conclude that shrews referable to S. l. fisheri are distributed widely in the North Carolina Coastal Plain, well beyond the historic Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia.

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