The identification of species by diagnostic molecular characters and the phylogenetic relationships of muntjac

Mary Genevieve Egan, Fordham University


A molecular diagnosis system was established in order to identify muntjac (Muntiacinae: Muntiacus) species. This allowed for the unambiguous identification of eight species. Including M. atherodes, this brings to nine, the number of species in the genus. One of these species (M. putaoensis) was newly identified. Another (M. rooseveltorum) represented the re-discovery of a species not seen in almost 70 years. A phylogenetic analysis revealed four main lineages within the genus. M. truongsonensis appeared to be closest to M. putaoensis , with M. rooseveltorum slightly outside of these. These three plus the giant muntjac formed one clade. The giant muntjac nested well within an otherwise monophyletic Muntiacus. It was recommended that the generic name Megamuntiacus for the giant muntjac be abandoned in favor of Muntiacus in order to reflect phylogenetic relationships. M. crinifrons plus M. feae formed a second lineage. A third lineage was composed of the variable common muntjac, with a fourth represented by M. reevesi. The resolution of higher level relationships revealed strong support for the monophyly of Ruminantia with Tragulidae as sister to the higher ruminants. The basal placement of Antilocapridae within Pecora was also well supported, This suggests that characters such as the condition of the double lacrimal orifice, which has been used to unite antilocaprids with cervids in the superfamily Cervoidea, need to be re-examined. The monophyly of the subfamily Muntiacinae was supported as was a sister group relationship between Muntiacinae and Cervinae. This sister group relationship supports the idea that the plesiometacarpal condition evolved only once among cervids and that plesiometacarpal deer form a natural group. The nesting of this group within Cervidae argues against family rank for muntjac. Habitat loss threatens muntjac in many parts of their range. This, coupled with their previously unrecognized levels of endemism and species richness suggests that the conservation of muntjac and their habitats should be given high priority.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Zoology

Recommended Citation

Egan, Mary Genevieve, "The identification of species by diagnostic molecular characters and the phylogenetic relationships of muntjac" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964564.