Conflicting molecular phylogenies of European long-eared bats (Plecotus) can be explained by cryptic diversity

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2002
Authors:Kiefer, A., Mayer, F., Kosuch, J., von Helversen, O., Veith, M.
Journal:Molecular Phylogenetics and EvolutionMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Date Published:2002///
Keywords:Altitudinal niche separation, Cryptic diversity, Mammalia, Molecular clock, Partition homogeneity, phylogeny, Plecotus

Conflicting phylogenetic signals of two data sets that analyse different portions of the same molecule are unexpected and require an explanation. In the present paper we test whether (i) differential evolution of two mitochondrial genes or (ii) cryptic diversity can better explain conflicting results of two recently published molecular phylogenies on the same set of species of long-eared bats (genus Plecotus). We sequenced 1714 bp of three mitochondrial regions (16S, ND1, and D-loop) of 35 Plecotus populations from 10 European countries. A likelihood ratio test revealed congruent phylogenetic signals of the three data partitions. Our phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that the existence of a previously undetected Plecotus lineage caused the incongruities of previous studies. This lineage is differentiated on the species level and lives in sympatry with its sister lineage, Plecotus auritus, in Switzerland and Northern Italy. A molecular clock indicates that all European Plecotus species are of mid or late Pliocene origin. Plecotus indet. was previously described as an intergrade between P. auritus and Plecotus austriacus since it shares morphological characters with both. It is currently known from elevations above 800 m a.s.l. in the Alps, the Dinarian Alps and the Pindos mountains in Greece. Since we could demonstrate that incongruities of two molecular analyses simply arose from the mis-identification of one lineage, we conclude that molecular phylogenetic analyses do not free systematists from a thorough inclusion of morphological and ecological data. © 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

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