The principal goal of the project is to understand cladogenesis and microevolution in the subterranean African mole-rats (Bathyergidae, Rodentia). In spite of extraordinary discoveries made in this group, its species diversity is poorly understood and also its species-level phylogeny was never reliably resolved. The lack of an understanding of species boundaries is hampering the advancement of ecological and evolutionary studies and also of top-notch biomedical research, for which African mole-rats serve as a model. Due to collaboration with all relevant research groups, we will construct a state of the art phylogenetic species framework based on very detailed taxon and geographic sampling. This will establish a robust spatiotemporal basis allowing us on the one hand to answer longstanding questions on evolution of sociality in a family with both solitary and social species, and on the other hand to solve questions on the evolution of the subterranean phenotypic syndrome, i.e. adaptations, which are related to burrowing as the most typical activity of subterranean mammals.