Molecular architecture of Pipistrellus pipistrellus/Pipistrellus pygmaeus complex (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae): further cryptic species and Mediterranean origin of the divergence.

Original article


Hulva P, Horacek I, Strelkov PP, Benda P.

Department of Zoology, Charles University, Vinicna 7, 128 44 Prague 2, Czech Republic.

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Sep;32(3):1023-35.


Previous genetic analyses have demonstrated that two phonic types of one of the most common European bats, the Common pipistrelle, belong to distinct species, although they are almost identical morphologically (45 kHz Pipistrellus pipistrellus and 55 kHz Pipistrellus pygmaeus). To reconstruct the history of the species complex and explain the codistribution of both forms in Europe and the Mediterranean, we performed phylogenetic analysis based on a 402-bp portion of the cytochrome b gene. Particular attention was paid to the eastern and southern parts of the range where no data were available. We found further distinctive allopatric haplotypes from Libya and Morocco. The difference of about 6-7% described in the Libyan population suggests the occurrence of a new species in the southern Mediterranean. The species status of Moroccan population is also discussed. The phylogeographic patterns obtained and analysis of fossil records support the hypothesis of expansion of both species into Europe from the Mediterranean region during the Holocene. The allopatric speciation model fits our data best. The paleobiographic scenario envisaged is corroborated also by molecular clock estimations and correlations with Late Neogene environmental changes in the Mediterranean region which ended with the Messinian salinity crisis.

Keywords: Phylogeny; Phylogeography; Cryptic diversity; Allopatry; Cytochrome b; mtDNA; Pipistrellus pipistrellus; Pipistrellus pygmaeus