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Syst Biol. 2006 Apr;55(2):181-94.

Tenrec phylogeny and the noninvasive extraction of nuclear DNA.

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Museum für Naturkunde, D-10115, Berlin, Germany.


Due in part to scarcity of material, no published study has yet cladistically addressed the systematics of living and fossil Tenrecidae (Mammalia, Afrotheria). Using a noninvasive technique for sampling nuclear DNA from museum specimens, we investigate the evolution of the Tenrecidae and assess the extent to which tenrecids fit patterns of relationships proposed for other terrestrial mammals on Madagascar. Application of several tree-reconstruction techniques on sequences of the nuclear growth hormone receptor gene and morphological data for all recognized tenrecid genera supports monophyly of Malagasy tenrecids to the exclusion of the two living African genera. However, both parsimony and Bayesian methods favor a close relationship between fossil African tenrecs and the Malagasy Geogale, supporting the hypothesis of island paraphyly, but not polyphyly. More generally, the noninvasive extraction technique can be applied with minimal risk to rare/unique specimens and, by better utilizing museum collections for genetic work, can greatly mitigate field expenses and disturbance of natural populations.

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