Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


CCNY biologists identify new spiny pocket mouse species

Heteromys catopterius Discovered in Venezuela’s Coastal Range

Dr. Robert P. Anderson, Associate Professor of Biology at The City College of New York, and Ph.D. student Eliécer E. Gutiérrez have reported the existence of a new species of spiny pocket mouse, from Venezuela, Heteromys catopterius.

The name derives from the Greek katoptêrios, which means a “height that commands a view.” It was chosen for the new species in reference to its presence on four wet, mountainous forest regions of the rugged and steep-sided Cordillera de la Costa along the country’s northern coast.

“Most people are surprised to learn that new species of mammals are still being discovered,” Professor Anderson said. “Sometimes they are discovered based on genetic work, but this is a case where anatomical studies made it clear a species existed that had never been recognized by biologists before.”

Several features differentiate the Overlook Spiny Pocket Mouse from the more common Heteromys anomalus, known as the Caribbean Spiny Pocket Mouse. H. catopterius has darker fur and lacks the distinctly rounded ears of H. anomalus. In addition, its skull is wider and less elongated. The Overlook Spiny Pocket Mouse is found in elevations ranging from 350 to 2,450 meters above sea level, although mostly above 700 meters. In contrast, H. anomalus resides mostly in lowlands and lower elevations of the mountains of the region.

The findings were published in the “Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History,” in a Festschrift, a special volume in honor of Dr. Guy G. Musser, a curator at the museum who retired recently. The research was funded through a National Science Foundation grant.

In identifying a distinct species, researchers must look for data that indicate discrete morphologies, Professor Anderson explained. Further, they assess whether there is evidence for integration among the species.

“When you see gradual changes between locations, that is a sign that you do not have a distinct species,” he continued. “In this case, the species show very distinct morphology, even in the places where the vegetation types they inhabit come into contact.”

Professor Anderson, a leader in using GIS (geographic information systems) analysis to model species distributions (ranges), says his goal is to use the genus Heteromys as an example of how to integrate GIS, evolutionary biology and climate studies. With an aim toward conservation, he hopes to compare areas with suitable habitat for the species with the location of protected areas.

He and his collaborators at Brigham Young University and the Universidad Simón Bolívar are also currently performing genetic research to study evolutionary relationships in the genus. To complement this, Professor Anderson and his students are building GIS models of the species’ climatic requirements and applying them to reconstructions of past climates.

During the peak of the last Ice Age, when glaciers were extensive and temperatures were generally colder even in the tropics, distributions of this montane species were probably more contiguous, he explained. “We can take the same model of the species’ requirements and apply it to projections of future climate to predict what habitat will remain for the species as the climate gets warmer.”

He says it is likely that suitable habitats for this species will be reduced as a consequence of climate change. A GIS exercise studying the distribution of H. catopterius has been integrated into the laboratory of CCNY’s undergraduate biology course, “Ecology and Evolution.”

Contact: Ellis Simon, 212/650-6460,

Ellis Simon | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

nachricht Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark
28.10.2016 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>