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Genetic variation and population structure in the endangered greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum


Stephen Rossiter. Fax: +44 117 9257374; E-mail:


Following a dramatic decline last century, the British population of the endangered greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum is highly fragmented. To examine the consequences of fragmentation and limited dispersal on patterns of genetic structure and variation, we used microsatellite markers to screen bats from around 50% of the known maternity colonies in Britain, and two areas from continental Europe. Analyses revealed that Welsh and English colonies were genetically isolated. This, and lower variability in Britain than north France, may result from either genetic drift, or the species’ colonization history. Gene flow among most neighbouring colonies was not generally restricted, with one exception. These findings have important implications for the ongoing conservation management of this species.