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A Time-Calibrated Species-Level Phylogeny of Bats (Chiroptera, Mammalia)


A Time-Calibrated Species-Level Phylogeny of Bats (Chiroptera, Mammalia)

Ingi Agnarsson et al. PLoS Curr.


Despite their obvious utility, detailed species-level phylogenies are lacking for many groups, including several major mammalian lineages such as bats. Here we provide a cytochrome b genealogy of over 50% of bat species (648 terminal taxa). Based on prior analyzes of related mammal groups, cytb emerges as a particularly reliable phylogenetic marker, and given that our results are broadly congruent with prior knowledge, the phylogeny should be a useful tool for comparative analyzes. Nevertheless, we stress that a single-gene analysis of such a large and old group cannot be interpreted as more than a crude estimate of the bat species tree. Analysis of the full dataset supports the traditional division of bats into macro- and microchiroptera, but not the recently proposed division into Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera. However, our results only weakly reject the former and strongly support the latter group, and furthermore, a time calibrated analysis of a pruned dataset where most included taxa have the entire 1140bp cytb sequence finds monophyletic Yinpterochiroptera. Most bat families and many higher level groups are supported, however, relationships among families are in general weakly supported, as are many of the deeper nodes of the tree. The exceptions are in most cases apparently due to the misplacement of species with little available data, while in a few cases the results suggest putative problems with current classification, such as the non-monophyly of Mormoopidae. We provide this phylogenetic hypothesis, and an analysis of divergence times, as tools for evolutionary and ecological studies that will be useful until more inclusive studies using multiple loci become available.

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