Sorex araneus Linnaeus, 1758
Sorex araneus pulcher Zalesky, 1937: 213.
Syntypes.— (all were collected by A.C.V. van Bemmel on the island of Terschelling, The Netherlands)
♂, skin, part of skull, Noordvaarder, 8.vi.1937, # 101/37, ZMA 5262.
♀, skin, skull, Noordvaarder, 18.vi.1937, # 102/37, ZMA 5124.
♀, skin, skull, Noordvaarder, 18.vi.1937, # 103/37, ZMA 5127.
♂, skin, skull, Noordvaarder, 23.vi.1937, # 105/37, ZMA 5128.
♂, skin, skull, Noordvaarder, 22.vi.1937, # 106/37, ZMA 5263.
♀, skin, skull, Noordvaarder, 23.vi.1937, # 107/37, ZMA 5123.
♀, skin, broken and incomplete skull, Noordvaarder, 23.vi.1937, # 108/37, ZMA 5126.
♀, skin, skull, Griltjeplak, Noordvaarder (c. 53°22’N, 05°11’E), Terschelling, The Netherlands, 25.vi.1937, # 112/37, ZMA 5129.
♀, skin, broken and incomplete skull, south of Midsland (53°23’N, 05°17’E), 28.vi.1937, # 118/37, ZMA 5261.
Notes.— For his description Zalesky (1937) used 7 ♀♀ and 4 ♂♂ from the ZMA collection, which he indicated by their field numbers, as the specimens had no proper registration numbers yet. The specimens with field numbers 100/37 and 104/37 cannot be found in the ZMA collection, nor in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna (Dr Anita Gamauf, in lit., 6 December 2010) where Zalesky worked. (Loch’s observation in 1977 that the ZMA would hold only three type specimens of S. a. pulcher is not correct.) Zalesky did not fix a holotype “[...] da man nur nach einer ganzen Serie von Stücken eine Neubeschreibung durchführen kann."
The island of Terschelling is one in a range of islands (the Wadden Islands) lining the north coast of The Netherlands. Of these, Terschelling is the only island inhabited by Sorex araneus Linnaeus, 1758. The close relative Sorex coronatus Millet, 1828 does probably not occur there (Lange, van Winden, Twisk, de Laender & Speer, 1986; Mostert, 1992), but the possibility should be kept in mind. On the basis of the specimens’ labels the type locality, quoted as “Naturschutzgebiet der Nordseeinsel Terschelling, Holland” (Nature conservation area of the North Sea island of Terschelling) can be narrowed down to the Noordvaarder, West-Terschelling. The Noordvaarder is a small national nature reserve partly covering the western part of the island, while Midsland is a village to the east of the reserve. From after World War II until 1996, a part of The Noordvaarder has been used as a practice-ground by the Dutch Air Force. Only one of the specimens, ZMA 5129, represents a more precise locality within The Noordvaarder, i.e. Griltjeplak, while another, ZMA 5261, was collected near Midsland.
This latter locality was not noted by Zalesky. According to their labels, the collector of the syntype series would not be A.C.V. van Bemmel, as Zalesky (1937) wrote, but the State Forestry Service (Dutch: Staatsbosbeheer). However, the collectors produced a report based on zoological inventories of the Wadden Islands (Ter Pelkwijk, van Bemmel & Mörzer Bruyns, 1937), during which this series was collected. The report states that A.C.V. van Bemmel and M.F. Mörzer Bruyns made an inventory of the fauna of Terschelling. At the time, Van Bemmel was a student assisting the ZMA mammal department. Hence, Zalesky’s statement on the collector of this series can be accepted as correct.
Zalesky (1937) based his description on fur colours, fur colour pattern, and tooth pigmentation. In 1948 he published a revision of Sorex araneus in North and Central Europe in which he repeats his description of S. a. pulcher and elaborates on the fur, with emphasis on differences between summer and winter fur. Husson (1962) wrote that the status of S. a. pulcher is in need of confirmation on the basis of more extensive material than the type series. Van Laar (1964) critically examined Zalesky’s results and studied Sorex from Terschelling in the collections of the ZMA and the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie in Leiden, and collected new material on Terschelling. His preliminary conclusions were that S. a. pulcher may not differ significantly from the mainland form in body and skull measurements and in winter fur, but it may differ in summer fur. He recommended this as a subject for further research.
Other authors have touched on the subject but did not tackle this problem. Loch (1977), who examined many specimens of Sorex araneus from The Netherlands, saw three of the syntypes and concluded that in two the characters agreed with those of karyotype B - one of the karyotypes encountered on the mainland - while in the third he found the characters to be less clear. Hausser, Hutterer & Vogel (1990) refrained from recognizing subspecies within Sorex araneus and stated that a satisfying division of S. araneus into subspecies should rest on geomorphological variation, the distribution of karyotypes, and biochemical criteria, suggesting that available data were not sufficient. Mostert (1992) identified all Sorex from Terschelling as S. araneus.