Generically speaking, a survey on Neogene rodent diversity at the genus level in the NOW database


Over the last half a century, a massive amount of data has been gathered on Neogene rodents of Europe. Using the NOW database, we analysed changes in generic diversity during the Neogene and the beginning of the Quaternary. Studies as the present are useful for exploring major changes in diversity, but the pitfalls are many and varied. Whereas the quality of the fossil record is good, there are notable exceptions. Within our dataset, MN 1, MN 12 and MN 17 stand out for the limited number of localities available and the record of the eastern Mediterranean is clearly as yet poorer than that from central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. The record can be influenced by incomplete faunal lists, outdated literature and unresolved taxonomies. In addition, the use of the MN system presumably obscures patterns, as it often does not allow for a co-eval comparison between various regions. Reconstruction of major patterns starts with the understanding of basic data. Despite all these limitations the results of this work indicate that the record for central Europe consistently shows higher diversity than lower latitudes. The highest peak in diversity is found in MN 15, but the record of the Iberian Peninsula shows no increase at that time. The rodent diversity is surprisingly constant during most part of the Neogene, the stronger variations being related to the diversification of the murinae and arvicolinae groups and decline of the cricetine.

Key words

palaeobiogeography, Europe, Rodentia, Miocene, Pliocene, bias