Our interest in terrestrial vertebrates is focused on African small mammal faunas (mostly rats, mice, shrews duiker antelopes and monkeys) South of the Sahara desert.
Despite the fact that many species are described, the taxonomic diversity of these faunas remains insufficiently known. Particularly the lack of taxonomic knowledge on rats and mice has grim implications because these small mammals adversely affect the lives of millions of Africans by destroying crops, damaging stored foods, and the fact that several species are reservoirs and vectors for human diseases.
To address these taxonomical problems, we collaborate with several partners to gather extensive specimen and tissue collections with species names, ecological and locality data.
Ongoing studies combine craniometrical features, mitochondrial DNA sequences and karyological data to solve taxonomical problems and establish a DNA barcode database (this website will be opened in a new window) to allow the identification of these often morphologically very similar species.
Fieldwork in rainforest, area Kisangani (Congo).
Photos: all pictures from E. Verheyen except the upper right from Pionus Katuala