The morphological identification of cryptic rodent species has historically been problematic. At best, many cryptic species have been identified by chromosomal differences. However, to study the life histories of such rodent species, there is a need for a molecular technique for cryptic species identification that does not involve destructive sampling. In this manuscript we examine mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cytochrome-b genetic variation in 2 cryptic murid rodent species, the red veld rat (Aethomys chrysophilus) and the Tete veld rat (A. ineptus) from southern Africa. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses of these sequences showed reciprocal monophyly between populations of the 2 species in southern Africa, but no support for monophyly of A. chrysophilus from southern and eastern Africa. This suggests that the analysis of mtDNA can be used to distinguish these 2 sister species in southern Africa. However, these results need to be investigated further by DNA analyses of type specimens, topotypical material, or both from adjacent localities.
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