Phylogeographic Assessment of the Heermann's Kangaroo Rat
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Heermann’s kangaroo rats (Dipodomys heermanni; Rodentia: Heteromyidae) are endemic to California and primarily found in the dry, gravelly grassland and open chaparral habitats of the San Joaquin Valley. Current taxonomy (based on morphology and habitat use) recognizes nine subspecies within this kangaroo rat species. Management practices of D. heermanni primarily are based on this classification, but this taxonomy may not accurately reflect unique lineages in need of conservation. Using molecular and morphological data, I performed a phylogeographic assessment of D. heermanni examining relationships within and among the nine subspecies across the full geographic range of the species. Phylogenetic and network analyses of mitochondrial data from over 90 museum specimens (representing all nine subspecies distributed across the range of the species) revealed no substantial genetic differentiation within D. heermanni. Similarly, a geometric morphometric analysis of the cranium of over 200 adult D. heermanni museum specimens (again representing all subspecies across the geographic distribution of species) resulted in no apparent morphological clustering across geography. My analyses indicate that recognition of all nine subspecies is likely unwarranted and that conservation and management practices of D. heermanni are in need of revision.
Downs, Bridgett Benedict (2018). Phylogeographic Assessment of the Heermann's Kangaroo Rat. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from