New species from the temperate Valdivian rainforest, Chile

I was fortunate enough to help describe a new species of soft-haired mouse, Abrothrix manni, while collaborating with a talented team led by Guillermo D’Elía (Universidad Austral de Chile). Together using morphological and genetic characters, including dried-tissue DNA from specimens housed at the Field Museum, we were able to demonstrate the species-level distinctiveness of populations on and near Chiloé Island, southern Chile.

Popular press for the article in the Valdivian papers.

The article can be downloaded here, and an abstract is pasted below:

Description of a new soft-haired mouse, genus Abrothrix (Sigmodontinae), from the temperate Valdivian rainforest

Guillermo D’Elía, Pablo Teta, Nathan S. Upham, Ulyses F. J. Pardiñas, and Bruce D. Patterson


Analyses of morphological and molecular data indicate the existence of an unrecognized and unnamed species of soft-haired mouse, genus Abrothrix. Here, we name and describe this new species, which inhabits the Valdivian ecoregion, from the north of Chiloé Island onto the mainland in the Chilean regions of Los Lagos and Los Ríos; it also occurs at a single locality in the Argentinean province of Neuquén. Long confused with A. sanborni, the new species presents a unique combination of characters that differentiate it in external, cranial, phallic, and dental terms from its congeners. Phylogenetic analysis, based on cytochrome-b gene sequences, indicates that the new species is sister to a clade formed by the austral species A. lanosa and A. sanborni and differs on average from them by 5.7% and 5.2%, respectively. Results based on the nuclear Fgb-I7 locus are less conclusive regarding the phylogenetic position of the new species but also show its distinction. We comment on the conservation significance of our findings, considering that forests of the Valdivian ecoregion are suffering substantial human disturbance through intensive logging.