Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2017-02-23
Page range: 461–483
Abstract views: 153
PDF downloaded: 7

The taxonomic status of Long-tailed shrews (Mammalia: genus Sorexfrom Nuclear Central America

Department of Biological Sciences, San Jose State University, San Jose, California 95192-0100, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409-3131. USA.
Mammalia taxonomy morphometrics species groups type locality Isthmus of Tehuantepec


We examined 256 specimens of long-tailed shrews (Sorex) from 53 localities throughout the highlands of Nuclear Central America. We evaluate the efficacy of using three qualitative characteristics to identify populations of Sorex from Nuclear Central America: 1) the presence or the absence of a postmandibular foramen and canal; 2) relative size of U3 compared to U4; and, 3) the presence or absence of a pigmented ridge on the lingual side of each unicuspid tooth. In our data, the first character is invariable for the specimens we examined. Two species groups can be recognized based on the presence (S. salvini species group) or the absence of a postmandibular foramen and canal (S. veraepacis species group). The other two characteristics were useful, but not diagnostic. Based upon Principal Component Analysis we recognize nine species of Sorex in Nuclear Central America. Five species belong to the S. salvini species group: S. cristobalensis, S. salvini, S. sclateri, S. stizodon, and a new species from Honduras. Four species belong to the S. veraepacis species group: S. chiapensis, S. ibarrai, S. veraepacis, and a new species from western Guatemala. We also present evidence that the type locality (Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala) for S. veraepacis is not correct.



  1. Almendra, A.L. & Rogers, D.S. (2012) Biogeography of Central American mammals: Patterns and processes. In: Patterson, B.D. & Costa, L.P. (Eds.), Bones, Clones and Biomes: The History and Geography of Recent Neotropical Mammals. University of Chicago Press, Illinois, pp. 203–229.

    Alston, E.R. (1877) On an undescribed shrew from Central America. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1877, 445–446.

    Álvarez del Toro, M. (1977) Los mamíferos de Chiapas. Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, 144 pp.

    Baker, R.J. & Bradley, R.D. (2006) Speciation in mammals the genetic species concept. Journal of Mammalogy, 87, 643–662.

    Bradley, R.D. & Baker, R.J. (2001) A test of the genetic species concept: cytochrome-b sequences and mammals. Journal of Mammalogy, 82, 960–973.;2

    Campbell, J.A. (1999) Distribution patterns of amphibians in Middle America. In: Duellman, W.E. (Ed.), Patterns of distribution of amphibians: a global perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp. 111–210.

    Carleton, M.D. & Huckaby, D.G. (1975) A new species of Peromyscus from Guatemala. Journal of Mammalogy, 56, 444–451.

    Carleton, M.D., Sánchez, O. & Vidales, G.U. (2002) A new species of Habromys (Muroidea: Neotominae) from México. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 115, 488–533.

    Carraway, L.N. (2007) Shrews (Eulypotyphla: Soricidae) of México. Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist, 3, 1–91.

    Conroy, V.C.J., Hortelano, Y., Cervantes, F.A. & Cook, J.A. (2001) The phylogenetics position of southern relictual species of Microtus (Muridae: Rodentia) in North America. Mammalian Biology, 66, 332–344.

    Dannelid, E. (1991) The genus Sorex (Mammalia, Soricidae)–distribution and evolutionary aspects of Eurasian species. Mammal Review, 21, 1–20.

    Dengo, G. (1980) Estructura geológica, historia tectónica y morfología de América Central. 2nd Edition. Instituto Centroamericano de Investigación y Tecnología Industrial (ICAITI), AID. Centro Regional de Ayuda Técnica, Agencia para el Desarrollo Internacional, México, 56 pp.

    Diersing, V. E. & Hoffmeister, D.F. (1977) Revision of the shrews Sorex merriami and a description of a new species of the subgenus Sorex. Journal of Mammalogy, 58, 321–333.

    Donnelly, T.W. (1989) Geologic history of the Caribbean and Central America. In: Bally, A.W. & Palmer, A.R. (Eds.), The Geology of North America: an overview. Vol. A. Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 299–321.

    Donnelly, T.W., Horne, G.S., Finch, R.C. & López-Ramos, E. (1990) Northern Central America; the Maya and Chortis blocks. In: Dengo, G. & Case, J.E. (Eds.), The Geology of North America: The Caribbean Region. Vol. H. Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 37–76.

    Endler, J.A. (1977) Geographic Variation, Speciation, and Clines. Monographs in Population Biology, 10, 1–246.

    Espinoza Medinilla, E., Anzures Dadda, A. & Cruz Aldan, E. (1998) Mamíferos de la Reserva de la Biósfera El Triunfo, Chiapas. Revista Mexicana de Mastozoología, 3, 79–94.

    Esteva, M., Cervantes, F., Brant, S. & Cook, J.A. (2010) Molecular phylogeny of long-tailed shrews (genus Sorex) from México and Guatemala. Zootaxa, 2615, 47–65.

    Findley, J.S. (1955) Speciation of the wandering shrew. University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History, 9, 1–68.

    George, S.B. (1988) Systematics, historical biogeography, and evolution of the genus Sorex. Journal of Mammalogy, 69, 443–461.

    Godman, F.D. (1915) Biologia centrali-americana. Zoology, botany, and archæology. Introductory Volume. R. H. Porter, London, 149 pp., 8 maps.

    Goldman, E.A. (1951) Biological investigations in México. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 115, 1–476.

    Gutiérrez-García, T.A. & Vázquez-Domínguez, E. (2013) Consensus between genes and stones in the biogeographic and evolutionary history of Central America. Quaternary Research, 79, 311–324.

    Gray, J.E. (1843) Exhibition of specimens of Mammalia from Coban in Central America. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1843, 1–79.

    Hall, E.R. (1981) The Mammals of North America. Vol. 1. 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 600 + 90 pp.

    Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T. & Ryan, P.D. (2001) PAST: Paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica, 4 (1), 1–9. Available from: (accessed 15 June 2015)

    Hutterer, R. (2005) Order Soricomorpha. In: Wilson, D.E. & Reeder, D.M. (Eds.), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 3rd Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp. 220–311,

    Jackson, H.H.T. (1925) Preliminary descriptions of seven shrews of the Genus Sorex. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 38, 127–130.

    Jackson, H.H.T. (1928) A taxonomic review of the American long-tailed shrews: (Genera Sorex and Microsorex). North American Fauna, 51, 1–238.

    James, K.H. (2007) Structural geology: From local elements to regional synthesis. In: Bundschuh, J. & Alvarado, G.E. (Eds.), Central America: Geology, Resources, and Hazards. Vol. 1. CRC Press, London, pp. 277–321.

    Junge, J.A. & Hoffmann, R.S. (1981) An annotated key to the long-tailed shrews (genus Sorex) of the United States and Canada, with notes on Middle American Sorex. Occasional Paper of the Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas, 94, 1–48.

    Marshall, J.S. (2007) Chapter 3. Geomorphology and Physiographic Provinces of Central America. In: Bundschuh, J. & Alvarado, G. (Eds.), Central America: Geology, Resources, and Hazards. Vol. 1. CRC Press, London, pp. 75–121.

    Matson, J.O. (2008) Intrapopulation variation in Ibarra’s Verapaz shrew (Sorex veraepacis ibarrai) from Guatemala. Mammalian Biology, 73, 66–69.

    Matson, J.O. & McCarthy, T.J. (2005) A new subspecies of Verapaz shrew (Sorex veraepacis) from Guatemala. In: Merritt, J.F., Churchfield, S., Hutterer, R. & Sheftel, B.I. (Eds.), Advances in the Biology of Shrews II. Special Publication of the International Society of Shrew Biologists, 1, pp. 63–70.

    Matson, J.O., Ordóñez-Garza, N., Bulmer, W. & Eckerlin, R.P. (2012) Small mammal communities in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Mastozoología Neotropical, 19, 71–84.

    Matson, J.O., Ordóñez-Garza, N., Woodman, N., Bulmer, W., Eckerlin, R.P. & Hanson, J.D. (2014) Small mammals from the Chelemhá Cloud Forest Reserve, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. The Southwestern Naturalist, 59, 258–262.

    Mayr, E. (1963) Animal species and evolution. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 797 pp.

    McCarthy, T.J. & Perez-C., S.G. (2006) Land and freshwater mammals of Guatemala: faunal documentation and diversity. In: Cano, E.B. (Ed.), Biodiversidad de Guatemala. Vol. I. Undiversidad dl Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala, pp. 625–674.

    Merriam, C.H. (1895) Synopsis of the American shrews of the genus Sorex. North American Fauna, 10, 57–124.

    Merriam, C.H. (1897) Descriptions of five new shrews from México, Guatemala, and Colombia. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 11, 227–230.

    Ohdachi, S.D., Hasegawa, M., Iwasa, M.A., Vogel, P., Oshida, T., Lin, L.K. & Abe, H. (2006) Molecular phylogenetics of soricid shrews (Mammalia) based on mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences: with special reference to the Soricinae. Journal of Zoology, 270, 177–191.

    Ordóñez-Garza, N., Matson, J.O., Strauss, R.E., Bradley, R.D. & Salazar-Bravo, J. (2010) Patterns of phenotypic and genetic variation in three species of endemic Mesoamerican Peromyscus (Rodentia: Cricetidae). Journal of Mammalogy, 91, 848–859.

    Ordóñez-Garza, N., Matson, J.O., Eckerlin, R.P., Bulmer, W. & Greiman, S. (2014) Small mammal community from an isolated, remnant cloud forest in Guatemala. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University, 324, 1–7.

    Ramírez-Pulido, J., González-Ruiz, N., Gardner, A.L. & Arroyo-Cabrales, J. (2014) List of recent land mammals of Mexico, 2014. Museum of Texas Tech University Special Publications, 63, 1–69.

    Rickart, E.A. (1977) Reproduction, growth and development in two species of cloud forest Peromyscus from southern México. Occasional papers of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, 67, 1–22.

    Ridgway, R. (1912) Color standards and color nomenclature. privately printed, Washington, D.C., 43 pp., 53 pls.

    Rudd, R.L. (1955) Age, sex, and weight comparisons in three species of shrews. Journal of Mammalogy, 36, 323–339.

    Savage, J.M. (1982) The enigma of the Central American herpetofauna: dispersals or vicariance? Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 69, 464–597.

    Schuchert, C. (1935) Historical Geology, Antillean-Caribbean Region. John Wiley, New York, 811 pp.

    Sullivan, J., Markert, J.A. & Kilpatrick, C.W. (1997) Phylogeography and molecular systematics of the Peromyscus aztecus Species Group (Rodentia: Muridae) inferred using parsimony and likelihood. Systematic Biology, 46, 426–440.

    Sullivan, J.K., Arellano, E. & Rogers, D. (2000) Comparative phylogeography of Mesoamerican highland rodents: concerted versus independent response to past climatic fluctuations. The American Naturalist, 155, 755–768.

    Trouessart, E.L. (1898) Catalogus mammalium tam viventium quam fossilium. Nova Editio (Prima Completa). Vol. 2. R. Friedländer & Sohn, Berolini, 815 pp. [pp. 665–1479]

    Vásquez, L.B, Medellín, R.A. & Cameron, G.N. (2000) Population and community ecology of small rodents in montane forest of western México. Journal of Mammalogy, 81, 77–85.;2

    Woodman, N. (2011a) Nomenclatural notes and identification of small-eared shrews (Mammalia: genus Cryptotis) from Cobán, Guatemala, in The Natural History Museum, London. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 124, 249–258.

    Woodman, N. (2011b) Patterns of morphological variation amongst semifossorial shrews in the highlands of Guatemala, with the description of a new species (Mammalia, Soricomorpha, Soricidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 163, 1267–1288.

    Woodman, N., Matson, J.O., McCarthy, T.J., Eckerlin, R.P., Bulmer, W. & Ordóñez-Garza, N. (2012) Distributional records of shrews (Soricomorpha: Soricidae) from northern Central America, with the first record of Sorex from Honduras. Annals of Carnegie Museum, 80, 207–237.