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Molecular systematics and origin of sociality in mongooses (Herpestidae, Carnivora)

Abstract : The Herpestidae are small terrestrial carnivores comprising 18 African and Asian genera, currently split into two subfamilies, the Herpestinae and the Galidiinae. The aim of this work was to resolve intra-familial relationships and to test the origin of sociality in the group. For this purpose we analysed sequences of the complete cytochrome b gene for 18 species of Herpestidae. The results showed that the mongooses were split into three clades: (1) the Malagasy taxa (Galidiinae and Cryptoprocta), (2) the true social mongooses and (3) the solitary mongooses, each group being also supported by morphological and chromosomal data. Our results suggested unexpected phylogenetic relationships: (1) the genus Cynictis is included in the solitary mongoose clade, (2) the genera Liberiictis and Mungos are sister-group, and (3) the genus Herpestes is polyphyletic. We examined the evolution of the sociality in mongooses by combining behavioural traits with the cytochrome b data. Some of the behavioural traits provided good synapomorphies for characterizing the social species clade, showing the potential benefit of using such characters in phylogeny. The mapping of ecological and behavioural features resulted in hypothesizing solitary behavior and life in forest as the conditions at the base of the mongoose clade.
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Géraldine Veron, Marc Colyn, Amy E Dunham, Peter Taylor, Philippe Gaubert. Molecular systematics and origin of sociality in mongooses (Herpestidae, Carnivora). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Elsevier, 2004, 30 (3), ⟨10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00229-X⟩. ⟨hal-01346133⟩



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