Identification of postcranial elements of Gerbillinae (Mammalia: Rodentia) in pellet contents, with special reference to the species Meriones zarudnyi
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Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.
Biblioteca de Ciència i Tecnologia, Servei de Biblioteques, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Kordiyeh Hamidi   

Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.
Online publication date: 2022-11-03
Publication date: 2022-11-03
Birds of prey feed mainly on small vertebrates and regurgitate indigestible remains, such as hair and bones of their prey, as pellet. Hence, the analysis of pellets provides valuable information on the distribution of the prey species. In this paper, we used elements of the postcranial skeleton for the identification of gerbilline rodents in pellets of birds of prey in Iran for the first time. These pellets were collected during several field campaigns in 11 regions of North, Razavi, and South Khorasan provinces (Iran), and supplemented with museum data from 13 regions in Razavi Khorasan, Golestan, and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari provinces (Iran). A total of 320 rodent individuals from 102 different pellets were identified, of which 44 (13%) rodent specimens belong to Gerbillinae. The gerbilline species Meriones crassus, M. zarudnyi and Tatera indica were recognized based on diagnostic traits of their postcranium. Identification based on postcranial traits was confirmed by skull and tooth identifications. Using pellet remains, the record of Zarudny’s jird (M. zarudnyi) expanded the distribution range of the species. We also provided some notes on the shape and size of the pellets of birds of prey. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the role of postcranial elements in identification of rodents.