Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus <i>Vernaya</i> (Mammalia: Rodentia: Muridae) with the description of two new species.


The climbing mouse is a rare, small mammal listed as an endangered species on the China species red list. Molecular phylogenetic analyses and the evolutionary history of the genus remain unexplored because of the extreme difficulty in capturing individuals and their narrow distribution. Here, we collected 44 specimens, sequenced one mitochondrial and eight nuclear genes, and integrated morphological approaches to estimate phylogenetic relationships, delimit species boundaries, and explore evolutionary history. Molecular analyses and morphological results supported the validity of these four species. Here, we describe two new species, Vernaya meiguites sp. nov. and Vernaya nushanensis sp. nov., and recognize Vernaya foramena, previously considered a subspecies of Vernaya fulva, as a valid species. The estimated divergence time suggests that the climbing mouse began to diversify during the Pliocene (3.36 Ma).





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Publication Info

Zhao, Songping, Xuming Wang, Binbin V Li, Liang Dou, Yingxun Liu, Siyu Yang, Ronghui Fan, Yong Jiang, et al. (2023). Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus Vernaya (Mammalia: Rodentia: Muridae) with the description of two new species. Ecology and evolution, 13(11). p. e10628. 10.1002/ece3.10628 Retrieved from

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Binbin Li

Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University

Dr. Binbin Li is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences of the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. She holds a secondary appointment with Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Her research focuses on loss of biodiversity, endangered and endemic species conservation such as giant pandas, priority setting and management of protected areas, and promotion of innovative technology, markets and policies to solve conservation problems and local community development. Dr. Li got her PhD in Environment from Duke University (2017), M.S in Natural Resources and Environment from University of Michigan (2012). and B.S in Life Sciences with a dual degree in Economics from Peking University (2010).

Dr. Li’s work covers the identification of conservation priorities and national parks in China, impacts of One Belt One Road on biodiversity, giant panda conservation and management via Footprint Identification Technique (FIT), impacts of oil palm and rubber plantations on biodiversity in Southeast Asia, influence of national environmental policies on human-wildlife conflicts, and behavioral study of endemic species. She is also a member of the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group.

Dr. Li is engaged in science communication and nature education. She is a signed nature photographer at Swild in China. During 2013-2015, she served as a science advisor for Disney nature documentary “Born in China”. She is devoted in using photography, social media, drama, and other art formats to promote conservation science in the public.

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