Neotropics

Recent extinctions disturb path to equilibrium diversity in Caribbean bats

Islands are ideal systems to model temporal changes in biodiversity and reveal the influence of humans on natural communities. Although theory predicts biodiversity on islands tends towards an equilibrium value, the recent extinction of large …

Bats (Chiroptera: Noctilionoidea) Challenge a Recent Origin of Extant Neotropical Diversity

The mechanisms underlying the high extant biodiversity in the Neotropics have been controversial since the 19th century. Support for the influence of period-specific changes on diversification often rests on detecting more speciation events during a …

Integrating Incomplete Fossils by Isolating Conflicting Signal in Saturated and Non-Independent Morphological Characters

Morphological characters are indispensable in phylogenetic analyses for understanding the pattern, process, and tempo of evolution. If characters are independent and free of systematic errors, then combining as many different kinds of characters as …

Molecular phylogeny of funnel-eared bats (Chiroptera: Natalidae), with notes on biogeography and conservation

Two assumptions have framed previous systematic and biogeographic studies of the family Natalidae: that it comprises a few widespread species, and that extant lineages originated in Mexico and/or Central America. This study analyzes new sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome b and the nuclear Rag2, to clarify species boundaries and infer relationships among extant taxa. Fixed differences in cytochrome b coincide with published morphological characters, and show that the family includes at least eight species. One newly recognized species is known to live from a single locality in Jamaica, suggesting immediate conservation measures and underscoring the urgency of taxonomic revision. Among the three genera, Chilonatalus and Natalus form a clade, to the exclusion of Nyctiellus. This phylogeny and the geographic distribution of natalids, both extant and extinct, are hardly compatible with a Middle American origin for the group. Instead, extant natalids appear to have originated in the West Indies. The threat of Caribbean hurricanes early in their evolutionary history might account for the specialized cave roosting that characterizes all natalids, even continental species.