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The blind mole rats (Spalacinae) reveal fascinating chromosomal variation, resulting from complex karyotype re-arrangements. This variation occurs between species, between populations of single species (polytypy) and within populations (polymorphism). This article reviews the current knowledge on blind mole rats' karyotypes and their variation. A special attention is paid to differentiation of the karyotype within a species and the patterns of chromosomal variation, which result in evolution of distinct chromosomal races (cytotypes). The chromosome races are defined as a group of geographically contiguous or recently separated populations which share a similar chromosome complement by descent. The present review indicated the existence of 73 distinct chromosome races recorded in blind mole rats classified within the genus Nannospalax, along with the seven species recognized within the genus Spalax. In total, 12 distinct diploid numbers of chromosomes were reported (2n = 36-62); and variation in chromosome morphologies was observed between populations with the same number of chromosomes (NF = 62-124). The blind mole rats classified in the genus Spalax revealed rather uniform karyotype both between and within the recognized species. Considering the traditional species classified in the Nannospalax genus, 25 races can be distinguished within N. leucodon, 28 races within N. xanthodon and 20 races within N. ehrenbergi. Hybrids between the races are found only exceptionally and they seem to be almost absent in extensive areas (Europe, Turkey). This fact indicates that chromosomal evolution in blind mole rats may be related to speciation processes. The definitive phylogenetic and taxonomic conclusions can be derived only after application of reliable molecular markers and setting of estimates of genetic distances and gene flow between populations.
Evolutionary parallelism complicates taxonomy of the bat genus Scotophilus. This implies the necessity for a careful examination of morphologically similar species. Robbins' — or “nutlet” — house bat Scotophilus nucella is an insufficiently known taxon of the African rainforest zone based on just a handful of recorded specimens previously included in the nut-coloured house bat S. nux. Because its phylogenetic relationship to S. nux and other congeneric species is unknown, it was assessed using analysis of DNA sequences of single mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences, S. nucella was placed in sister position to S. nux. A genetic divergence of 7.8–9.4 % between them supports the recognition of S. nucella as a distinct species. Analysis of partial sequences of the nuclear zinc finger protein gene on the Y-chromosome corroborated the sister relationship of S. nucella and S. nux, while showing sufficient differences to consider them as two species. Mitochondrial genetic diversity in S. nucella was low, whereas S. nux showed a rather complex genetic structure over a large geographic area, despite limited sampling. The origin of the forest group of Scotophilus could be dated to the Miocene-Pliocene transition and the split leading to the contemporary species S. nucella and S. nux to the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition. Both time periods are characterized by an arid climate that led to the retreat of forest environment, which likely promoted speciation in forest refugia. Mid-Pleistocene diversification in S. nux led to a separate lineage from Guinea, West Africa, for which a subspecific status may be considered, as it differs 3.4–4.5 % from other African populations.
In order to better understand the ecology of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and interspecific relationships among carnivores, we studied its dietary pattern and the diet of its main competitor, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) over a three-year period. The study was carried out in an agricultural area in SW Hungary and was based on scat analysis (jackal n = 373, fox n = 268 samples). The jackal primarily consumed small mammals in all seasons (mean biomass consumed: 72 %). The secondary food sources were wild ungulates (in winter and spring; mainly wild boar Sus scrofa, including piglets) and plants (in summer and autumn; mainly wild fruits). The consumption of cervids in winter and in spring was only detected in low proportions. The fox also primarily consumed small mammals (50.3 % of trophic niche breadth, B), but their consumption dropped in summer and autumn. Two-thirds of the summer and autumn diet consisted of plants, while the bird consumption was higher in spring and summer. The diet compositions of both predators were similar. However, compared with jackal, the fox consumed significantly higher proportions of birds. The standardized trophic niche breadth (BA) of these canids was very narrow (0.09), and the food overlapped in high proportions (69.8 %). The study confirmed the partial partitioning of food resources and opportunistic feeding of both canids.