Phylogenetic relationships among Callosciurus squirrels in the Indochina Peninsula: phylogenetic position of C. pygerythrus from Myanmar

Keywords: cytochrome b, global cooling, Irrawaddy squirrel, Phayre’s squirrel


The phylogenetic relationships among seven Callosciurus species from the Indochina Peninsula, including the C. honkhoaiensis which is endemic to Hon Khoai Island, were studied using complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences (1140 bases). We primarily focused on the phylogenetic position of C. pygerythrus, which is distributed in the western part of the peninsula. We identified two main lineages: 1) C. caniceps, C. honkhoaiensis, C. inornatus, C. phayrei and C. pygerythrus, and 2) C. erythraeus and C. finlaysonii. Estimated divergence time between the two lineages was at the junction of the Zanclean and Piacenzian in the Pliocene. Within the first linage, the divergence time of sub-lineages corresponded to the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary, although phylogenetic relationships were unclear. These two divergence times estimated in the present study correspond to episodes of global cooling, suggesting that climate may have contributed to the divergence of these Callosciurus squirrels.