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Phylogeography of African Fruitbats (Megachiroptera)

AuthorsJuste, Javier CSIC ORCID; Alvarez, Yolanda CSIC ORCID; Tabares, Enrique; Garrido-Pertierra, Armando; Ibáñez, Carlos CSIC ORCID
Issue DateDec-1999
CitationMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 13:596-604(1999)
AbstractJoint sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome b and 16S rRNA genes of a wide representation of Megachiroptera were employed to evaluate the traditional taxonomic arrangement of African fruitbats and to examine their origins and evolutionary relationships. The resulting phylogenetic hypotheses are inconsistent with the previously established morphology-based subdivisions of Megachiroptera at the suprageneric level. Findings indicate the existence of an African clade, which appears to be formed by two endemic clades: the epomophorines and the myonycterines. According to our topologies, the genus Rousettus is monospecific in mainland Africa. Its traditional subgenera Stenonycteris and Lissonycteris appear closer to the myonycterines than to Rousettus. Topologies also indicate that the African genus Eidolon is not phylogenetically related to any other African fruitbat. It would seem that the arrival of fruitbats in Africa was a complex process involving at least three independent colonization events. One event took place probably in the Miocene via forested corridors that connected the African and Asian rain forest blocks, as for other groups of mammals. The resulting lineage diversified into most of the extant African fruitbats. Related to this clade, the Rousettus species group is thought to have arrived in Africa in more recent times, possibly by progressive displacement from the East through India. Finally, the present topologies suggest an independent colonization of Africa by ancestors of Eidolon.
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