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Keywords:

  • Pipistrellus kuhlii;
  • Corsica;
  • phylogeography;
  • cytochrome b;
  • lineages

Abstract

Previous genetic analyses have demonstrated that two divergent lineages of Pipistrellus kuhlii are spread over Europe and North Africa, and it has been proposed that Pipistrellus maderensis, a taxon endemic to the Canary Archipelago and Madeira, was its sister species. In this study, we used mitochondrial DNA sequences to investigate the level of endemism achieved by Corsican lineages with regard to their continental counterparts and to propose hypotheses about the geographical origin of Corsican bats. Our results suggest that Corsican Kuhl's pipistrelles are not endemic. Such a lack of genetic endemism in Corsica can result from current gene flow with French and Italian populations and/or recent colonization of this island. Additionally, our results demonstrate that Corsica was colonized independently from Europe by two divergent lineages (genetic distance=5.8%) widespread in the western Palaearctic and clearly suggest that North Africa probably does not play any significant role in the colonization of Corsica by the Kuhl's Pipistrelle. Additional morphometric, acoustic and ecological studies are needed to soundly ascertain the respective taxonomic status of these two divergent lineages and the level of distinctiveness achieved by Corsican bats.