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Range expansion of the greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula in Switzerland results in local extinction of the bicoloured white-toothed shrew C-leucodon
The distribution limits of Crocidura russula (Hermann, 1780) and C. leucodon (Hermann, 1780) were investigated during an interval of 25 years in the bottom of the Rhone valley above Lake Geneva, Switzerland (total data set: 105 spatio-temporal occurrences, 1137 shrews). In 1975, the contact zone between the two species was situated in the region of Martigny. In 1999/2000, new sampling revealed three results: (1) The contact zone showed an upward shift of about 25 km. (2) In the expanded range of C. russula, the resident species has totally disappeared (confirmed by owl pellets analysis). (3) This demonstrates a dominance of C, russula over C. leucodon. Three hypotheses which may explain the range expansion of C. russula were evaluated: (1) habitat modification favouring linear dispersal due to the construction of a highway; (2) temporal event favoured by climate fluctuations, or (3) ongoing postglacial colonisation of Europe. Hypothesis 1 was rejected, because the progression of the shrews anticipated the construction. Hypothesis 3 received only weak support because range limits of C. russula in the region of Nice have been stable for thousands of years. Therefore hypothesis 2, admitting that ongoing climate change has facilitated range expansion, is the most probable.
crocidura, distribution, competition, biogeography
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