• chromosomal rearrangements;
  • cytochrome-b;
  • population divergence;
  • speciation


We compared sequence variation in the complete mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene with chromosomal and geographical variation for specimens of Peters’ tent-making bat (Uroderma bilobatum). Three different chromosomal races have been described in this species: a 2n = 42 race from South America east of the Andes, a 2n = 44 from NW Central America and 2n = 38 from the rest of Central America and NW South America. The deepest nodes in the tree were found within the South American race (42 race), which is consistent with a longer history of this race. Average distance among races ranged from 2.5 to 2.9%, with the highest amount of intraracial variation found within the 2n = 42 race (1.7%), intermediate values within the 2n = 38 race (0.9%) and lowest within the 2n = 44 race (0.5%). Variation among chromosomal races accounted for over 55% of molecular variance, whereas variation among populations within races accounted for 6%. The 2n = 38 and 2n = 44 races hybridize in the coastal lowlands of Honduras, near the Gulf of Fonseca. Introgression between these two races is low (two introgressed individuals in 45 examined). Clinal variation across the hybrid zone for the cytochrome-b of U. bilobatum, is similar to clinal variation reported for chromosomes and isozymes of this species. Mismatch distribution analyses suggests that geographical isolation and karyological changes have interplayed in a synergistic fashion. Fixation of the alternative chromosomal rearrangements in geographical isolation and secondary contact is the most likely mechanism accounting for the hybrid zone between the 2n = 38 and 2n = 44 races. If a molecular clock is assumed, with rates ranging from 2.3 to 5.0% per million years, then isolation between these races occurred within the last million years, implying a relatively recent origin of the extant diversity in Uroderma bilobatum. None the less, the three chromosomal races probably represent three different biological species.