The systematic status of Malayan Rattus rajah and Rattus surifer

Yong, Hoi Sen (1972) The systematic status of Malayan Rattus rajah and Rattus surifer. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Zoology., 23. pp. 157-165. ISSN 0007-1498

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Abstract

SYNOPSIS Ralius rajah (Thomas) and Rattus siirifer (Miller) are two medium-sized spiny rats occurring in Malaysian forests which have proved difficult to distinguish by morphological characters, including external appearance and skeletal anatomy. Several authors have in fact combined them as a single polymorphic species. Ecological data seem to indicate that these rats belong to separate species. Breeding and behaviour studies support this view. Karyotype and serological studies pro\-ide conclusive evidence for the distinctness of the two species. The names Rattus rajah (Thomas) and Rattus snrifer (Miller) are applied to two medium-sized spiny rats occurring in Malaysian forests. The two taxa are pheneti-cally rather aUke and published opinions on their respective status differ. Bonhote (1903) regarded them as separate species belonging to the subgroup rajah of the jerdoni group. Chasen (1940) and Sody (1941), the principal revisers, retained both as full species. No firm opinion was offered by Tate (1936, 1947) : 'There appears to be a very strong resemblance between the many forms of the rajah group. One suspects that some will at length be shown as merely seasonal or age phases of single races". EUerman (1949) attributed populations from Malaya to separate species under the names R. rajah pellax and R. snrifer surifer. EUerman and Morrison-Scott (1951), however, revised this opinion, and later (1955) suggested that R. rajah and R. snrifer were probably conspecific. Harrison (1957, 1966) was inchned to take the same view: 'This group is commonl}- divided into two forms, which may be called R. rajah and R. siirifer, but there is some doubt about their being true distinct species. . . . Decision on the taxonomic question must be deferred until genetical and other studies are completed." Hill (i960), however, maintained that the two forms represented distinct species and clearly described the external features distinguishing them. Although there is now no doubt that these rats can be readily distinguished by morphological characters (cf. Harrison, 1966), their systematic position, whether distinct species or a single polymorphic species, remains unsolved. It is the aim of this paper to provide an answer from various disciplines of comparative biological studies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Malayan Rattus rajah; Rattus surifer
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Institute of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2015 06:19
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2019 04:03
URI: http://eprints.um.edu.my/id/eprint/13263

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