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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
Northern Treeshrew
Tupaia belangeri (Northern Treeshrew), Myanmar. N. Woodman. © Smithsonian Institution.

New Discoveries

In a series of papers using a combination of cranial characters and fine-scale characters of the hand skeleton revealed by digital xrays, we have better defined T. glis as a species and shown that a number of populations previously synonymized with it belong to other species or are distinct species in their own right. This work greatly reduced the geographic range of the Common Treeshrew, restricting it to the Malay Peninsula south of the Isthmus of Kra, the purported contact zone with its sister species, the Northern Treeshrew, T. belangeri, and adjacent offshore islands. We have further shown the existence of certain biogeographical trends, such as a reverse Bergmann's response (smaller body size at higher latitudes) and a positive island effect, with larger body sizes on islands than on the mainland, and increasing body sizes with increasing island area. Our studies provide a means of assessing species boundaries among treeshrews, and our results so far note the need for re-assessment of the conservation status of many populations previously thought to belong to T. glis.

Treeshrew Distribution Map
Map illustrating the approximate distributions of 8 treeshrew taxa in southeast Asia.

Future Research

In addition to continuing to refine the Tupaia glis species group, we are undertaking a similar study of the Tupaia splendidula species group, populations of which have been confused with T. glis in the past.

Collaborators

  • ERIC J. SARGIS, Department of Anthropology & Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • LINK E. OLSON, University of Alaska Museum, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
  • ASPEN T. REESE, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • NATALIE C. MORNINGSTAR, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • TIFFANY N. BELL, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Northern Treeshrew
Inverted xray of the fore foot of a treeshrew, showing variables used in the studies of the hand.

Publications

Sargis, Eric J., Woodman, Neal, Morningstar, Natalie C., Bell, Tiffany N. and Olson, Link E. 2017. Skeletal variation and taxonomic boundaries among mainland and island populations of the common treeshrew (Mammalia: Scandentia: Tupaiidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 120(2): 286-312. doi:10.1111/bij.12876

Sargis, Eric J., Woodman, Neal, Morningstar, Natalie C., Reese, Aspen T. and Olson, Link E. 2014. Island history affects faunal composition: the treeshrews (Mammalia: Scandentia: Tupaiidae) from the Mentawai and Batu Islands, Indonesia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 111(2): 290-304. doi:10.1111/bij.12195

Sargis, Eric J., Woodman, Neal, Morningstar, Natalie C., Reese, Aspen T. and Olson, Link E. 2013. Morphological distinctiveness of Javan Tupaia hypochrysa (Scandentia, Tupaiidae). Journal of Mammalogy, 94(4): 938-947. doi:10.1644/13-MAMM-A-042.1

Sargis, Eric J., Woodman, Neal, Reese, Aspen T. and Olson, Link E. 2013. Using hand proportions to test taxonomic boundaries within the Tupaia glis species complex (Scandentia, Tupaiidae). Journal of Mammalogy, 94(1): 183-201. doi:10.1644/11-MAMM-A-343.1