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Featured Article

The murine genus Rhynchomys includes the large-bodied Philippine “shrew-rats,” highly specialized members of the vermivorous clade of Philippine murids. Four species are recognized, all of which are endemic to Luzon Island: R. soricoides from mountains within the Central Cordillera, R. isarogensis from Mt. Isarog on the Bicol Peninsula, R. banahao from Mt. Banahaw in south-central Luzon, and R. tapulao from Mt. Tapulao in the Zambales Mountains. Field surveys in 2006 and 2008 revealed two additional populations of Rhynchomys, one from Mt. Labo (1,544 m), a dormant stratovolcano at the base of the Bicol Peninsula, the other from Mt. Mingan (1,901 m), the highest peak in the central Sierra Madre of east-central Luzon. Assessment of external and craniodental features of available specimens from throughout Luzon support our description of the populations on Mt. Labo and Mt. Mingan as new species. All species of Rhynchomys are restricted to high-elevation, montane, and mossy forest habitats, separated by intervening lowlands. These discoveries highlight the importance of isolated highland areas in the historical diversification of Southeast Asian murines, and as current centers of endemism.

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