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The use of molecular phylogenetic and morphological tools to identify cryptic and paraphyletic species : examples from the diminutive long-fingered bats (Chiroptera : Miniopteridae : Miniopterus) on Madagascar
journal contributionposted on 2009-11-30, 00:00 authored by S Goodman, C Maminirina, H Bradman, L Christidis, Belinda Appleton
Based on nearly complete (1125 bp) cytochrome-b sequence data and morphological characters, two new endemic species of Miniopterus are described from Madagascar that were previously identified as M. manavi. Using phylogenetic analysis, the basal nodes of major lineages in the Malagasy members of this genus are weakly supported, while, in most cases, the branches leading to each of the clades are well resolved. Miniopterus mahafaliensis, new species, occurs in the southwestern semidesert areas and M. brachytragos, new species, has a broad distribution across the northern half of the island, ranging across several different biomes. Phylogenetic inference indicates that these two new taxa are not closely related to M. manavi sensu stricto, with average genetic distances of 9.2% and 5.7% from this taxon, respectively. On the basis of this and previous revisions, the former M. manavi complex is now recognized to represent at least five taxa, which do not form a monophyletic group with respect to one another, and represent extraordinary examples of convergent evolution. Miniopterus brachytragos is closely related to the recently named M. aelleni, while M. mahafaliensis is not closely associated with any of these species. Molecular phylogenetic analysis was imperative to resolve the species limits of these taxa and morphology then provided the means to corroborate the recovered clades. There are localities on the island, specifically limestone karstic zones, where four species of the former M. manavi sensu lato complex occur in strict sympatry. These species often use the same day-roost caves and have similar external and craniodental measurements. This raises intriguing questions as to how these animals divide their worlds with regard to dietary regimes and foraging strategies, as well as their speciation history.