A taxonomic revision of Funambulus (Rodentia: Sciuridae)

A taxonomic revision of Funambulus (Rodentia: Sciuridae)

The diversity of Asian palm squirrels and allies

LAP Lambert Academic Publishing ( 2010-07-22 )

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Palm squirrels are much smaller and less well known than red or gray squirrels but represent conspicuous, attractive and noisy animals in the urban habitats of south Asia extending westwards to Iran. There are five recognized species although some of these are rare, poorly studied and confined to the remaining rainforests of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka regarded as biodiversity hotspots. This work is an update on the taxonomy and distribution of these squirrels following the Bombay Natural History Society mammal survey from 1912. Using evidence from skulls, DNA and distribution surveys, there are probably more species than currently assumed. The biogeographic history of the region is looked at in the context of faunal connections between south and Southeast Asia. These squirrels are comparable to small and medium sized resident birds in the region and indeed associate with them, but have not hitherto received a comparable level of interest. This work would stimulate interest not just on squirrels, but the biodiversity of the Orient and its continuing importance to us all.

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Rajith Dissanayake

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