Just out @ PLOS one
Wood mice of the genus Apodemus are an essential component of small mammal communities throughout Europe. Molecular data suggest the postglacial colonization of current ranges from south European glacial refugia, different in particular species. Yet, details on the course of colonization and Holocene history of particular species are not available, partly because of a lack of reliable criteria for species identification in the fossil record. Using a sample of extant species, we analyzed variation patterns and between-species overlaps for a large set of metric and non-metric dental variables and established the criteria enabling the reliable species identification of fragmentary fossil material. The corresponding biometrical analyses were undertaken with fossil material of the genus (2528 items, 747 MNI) from 22 continuous sedimentary series in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from LGM to Recent. In Central Europe, the genus is invariantly absent in LGM assemblages but regularly appears during the Late Vistulian. All the earliest records belong to A. flavicollis, the species clearly predominating in the fossil record until the Late Holocene. A. uralensis accompanied it in all regions until the late Boreal when disappeared from the fossil record (except for Pannonia). A few items identified as A. sylvaticus had already appeared in the early Holocene assemblages, first in the western part of the region, yet the regular appearance of the species is mostly in the post-Neolithic age. A. agrarius appeared sparsely from the Boreal with a maximum frequency during the post-Neolithic period. The results conform well to the picture suggested by molecular phylogeography but demonstrate considerable differences among particular species in dynamic of the range colonization. Further details concerning Holocene paleobiogeography of individual species in the medium latitude Europe are discussed.
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