Problems in using Robertsonian rearrangements in determining monophyly: examples from the genera Tatera and GerbillurusQumsiyeh M.B.a · Hamilton M.J.a · Schlitter D.A.b
aDepartment of Biology and The Museum, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, and bSection of Mammals, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA
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Chromosomal banding data on three species of Tatera from Kenya significantly alter the previous hypothesis of relationships between and within the genera Tatera and Gerbillurus based on cladistic analyses and the rule of parsimony (Qumsiyeh, 1986b). Of the many possible hypothetical relationships, the most parsimonious tree showed three homoplasies and allowed the genus Gerbillurus to be paraphyletic. The alternative trees, depicting larger number of homoplasies but with homoplasies restricted to fusion or fission events, were compatible with the morphological data in supporting the monophyly of Gerbillurus. To choose between the hypothesis based on the most parsimonious chromosomal tree and those supported by both morphology and slightly less parsimonious chromosomal trees, we performed an electrophoretic study on this group of gerbils. The conclusions are that the genus Gerbillurus is monophyletic and represents a branch that is closely related to the T. robusta group of Taterillini. The study documents that fissions and fusions must have occurred frequently and that in some cases the same fusions were acquired in two independent lineages in numbers exceeding those that are predicted by strict parsimony. The results raise questions about the validity of systematic conclusions based solely on fusion/fission data and utilizing the parsimony criterion.
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