This is the first study of comparative phylogeography involving closely related species of Neotropical bats of the family Phyllostomidae. We compared patterns of geographical variation within the five species of fruit-eating bats currently recognized in the genus Carollia using the complete mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene. Our results suggest that the combined effect of the uplift of the Andes and the Panamanian land bridge has been as important for bats as for terrestrial mammals in shaping present-day biodiversity in the New World tropics. Species in this genus can be arranged in two highly supported clades, with a deep subdivision within each that corresponds well to differences across the Andes. We found three congruent phylogeographical patterns across species in this genus. First, the closer relationship between samples from western Ecuador and those from Central America, compared with populations east of the Andes in C. brevicauda, C. castanea and C. perspicillata. Second, the likelihood of a similar timing in South America for the arrival and diversification of C. brevicauda and C. perspicillata from their Central America ancestors. Third, the expansion of C. perspicillata and C. sowelli into northwestern Central America in the relatively recent past. Using a molecular clock, with rates ranging from 2.3 to 5% per 106 years, diversification within Carollia would have occurred over the last 1–4.5 Myr. These estimates agree well with the last rise of the Northern Andes and the Panama isthmus.
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