Carving out turf in a biodiversity hotspot: Multiple, previously unrecognized shrew species co-occur on Java Island, Indonesia

Esselstyn, J. A., Maharadatunkamsi, A. S. Achmadi, C. D. Siler & B. J. Evans. 2013
Molecular Ecology.

In theory, competition among species in a shared habitat results in niche separation. In the case of small recondite mammals such as shrews, little is known about their autecologies, leaving open questions regarding the degree to which closely related species co-occur and how or whether ecological niches are partitioned. The extent to which species are able to coexist may depend on the degree to which they exploit different features of their habitat, which may in turn influence our ability to recognize them as species. We explored these issues in a biodiversity hotspot, by surveying shrew (genus Crocidura) diversity on the Indonesian island of Java. We sequenced portions of nine unlinked genes in 100–117 specimens of Javan shrews and incorporated homologous data from most known Crocidura species from other parts of island South-East Asia. Current taxonomy recognizes four Crocidura species on Java, including two endemics. However, our phylogenetic, population genetic and species delimitation analyses identify five species on the island, and all are endemic to Java. While the individual ranges of these species may not overlap in their entirety, we found up to four species living syntopically and all five species co-occurring on one mountain. Differences in species’ body size, use of above ground-level habitats by one species and habitat partitioning along ecological gradients may have facilitated species diversification and coexistence.