A new species of mole, Talpa aquitania Nicolas, Martínez-Vargas & Hugot, 2017, was recently described from France. Based on the genetic identification of 270 individuals it was hypothesized that T. aquitania and T. europaea Linnaeus, 1758 are allopatric, being distributed on opposite sides of the Loire River, with the exception of a small area of sympatry in eastern Pyrénées mountains. The aim of the present study is to get a better understanding of the distribution of these two species in France based on the re-identification of museum specimens and extensive field sampling through a citizen science study. 1099 specimens were identified at the specific level (574 T. europaea and 525 T. aquitania) based on external characteristics, molar tooth morphology and/or genetic data. Our results confirm that T. aquitania is mainly distributed south and west of the Loire River, while the reverse is true for T. europaea. However, the Loire River is not a strict biogeographic barrier between these two species: several specimens of T. aquitania were recorded north and east of the Loire River in the Loire-Atlantique, Loiret and Nièvre departments. Moreover, two specimens were captured in the Var department. Several specimens of T. europaea were captured south and west of the Loire River in the Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret and Loire departments. Furthermore, both species were found in sympatry or in close proximity in the Pyrénées Mountains. The role of climate, soil type, food resources abundance (earthworms) and historical factors in explaining the actual distribution of these species is discussed.
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Vol. 43 • No. 24