• chiroptera, cytochrome b;
  • molecular systematics;
  • neotropical mammals;
  • Phyllostomidae;
  • phylogeography


The major aim of this study was to compare the phylogeographic patterns of codistributed bats and small nonvolant Neotropical mammals. Cytochrome b sequences (mitochondrial DNA) were obtained for a total of 275 bats representing 17 species. The tissue samples were collected in coastal Brazil, and were available from Mexico and the Guyana. The study concentrates on four species (Artibeus lituratus, Carollia perspicillata, Sturnira lilium and Glossophaga soricina) which were well represented. The other 13 species were sequenced to test the generality of the patterns observed. In general, sequence divergence values within species were low, with most bat species presenting less than 4% average sequence divergence, and usually between 1 and 2.5%. Clades of highly similar haplotypes enjoyed broad distribution on a continental scale. These clades were not usually geographically structured, and at a given locality the number of haplotypes was high (8–10). As distance increased, some moderately divergent clades were found, although the levels of divergence were low. This suggests a geographical effect that varied depending on species and scale. Small nonvolant mammals almost invariably have high levels of sequence divergence (> 10%) for cytochrome b over much shorter distances (< 1000 km). The grain of intraspecific variation found in small nonvolant mammals is much finer than in bats. Low levels of geographical structuring cannot be attributed to a slower evolutionary rate of bat DNA in relation to other mammalian taxa. The phylogeographic pattern of bats contrasts sharply with the pattern found for Neotropical rodents and marsupials.