BACKGROUND : The Libyan jird, Meriones libycus, is described as occurring from Morocco to the Mongolian plateau.
Three subspecies are known from morphological determinations but not genetic data. We used museum collection
locations to create a niche model of the most likely suitable habitat for this species within its potential extent.
Using samples collected from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we examined genetic diversity including available
samples from China and Tunisia, providing the first genetic overview of this species.
RESULTS : Mitochondrial cytochrome b data showed that genetic differentiation between Arabian and other
sampling locations of M. libycus is less than the lineage separation seen in Meriones meridianus and greater than
that in Meriones tamariscinus. The Arabian lineage investigated here is clearly distinct from the Chinese Meriones
libycus erythrourus and Tunisian Meriones libycus syrius, the latter subspecies being previously suggested to occur in
the sampling area.
CONCLUSIONS : We suggest further investigation to ascertain whether the lineage represented here is Arabian
Meriones libycus arimalius or a different lineage entirely. We further question the reliability of previous
morphological descriptions for producing specific determinations in Meriones and related taxa.