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Russian Journal of Theriology

Epigenetic variation of the common shrew, Sorex araneus, in different habitats // Russian J. Theriol. Vol.6. No.1: 4349 [in English].

ABSTRACT. Epigenetic variation of the common shrew, Sorex araneus, was studied in three habitats (floodplain forest, wet sedge bog and dry meadow) at Białowieża, north-eastern Poland. Previous chromosome and allozyme studies of the same population suggested that polymorphisms are related to environmental heterogeneity and that random factors influence frequencies of acrocentric chromosomes and alleles. In the present study we tested whether similar processes influence epigenetic variation. Thirty-one non-metric skull traits were scored in 274 individuals from samples collected in different biotopes. The specific aim of the study was to estimate non-metric trait frequencies and fluctuating asymmetry in shrews from different habitats, and to explain the factors involved in the maintenance of epigenetic polymorphism. Significant differences found among samples of shrews from different habitats indicated that important epigenetic variation exists within the population. This epigenetic variation in the common shrew appears to be related to environmental heterogeneity. KEY WORDS: Sorex araneus, common shrew, epigenetic variation, environmental heterogeneity.