Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version



Molecular Biology and Evolution (1988) 5(1): 79-89.


Copyright 1988, University of Chicago. Used by permission.


The Neotropical fruit bat, Artibeus jamaicensis, occurs throughout Latin America and on many islands in the Caribbean. Populations from Jamaica (in the Greater Antilles) to Barbados (in the Lesser Antilles) have been classified as a subspecies (A. j. jamaicensisi separate from that on the Lesser Antillean island of St. Vincent (A. j. schwartzi). Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was isolated from 54 individuals collected on these islands, analyzed by digestion with restriction endonucleases, and the restriction sites were mapped. Three different mtDNA genotypes (16,000 ± 200 bp) were identified: J-1 (16 animals from Jamaica, one from St. Vincent, 15 from Barbados), J-2 (two animals from Jamaica), and SV-1 (18 animals from St. Vincent, two from Barbados). The J-1 and J-2 genotypes were estimated to differ from each other by only 0.4%, but the SV-1 genotype differed from J-1 and J-2 by 8.1%-10.5%. The estimated sequence divergence between SV-1 and J-1 is unusually large for mammals that are regarded as conspecific. Restriction mapping showed that the differencesamong the genotypes (presence or absence of particular restriction sites)were located throughout the genome. The presence of the J-1 mtDNA genotype on Jamaica and on St. Vincent and Barbados (1,400 km away) demonstrates that maternal lineages in these bats are not necessarily confined to single islands or limited geographic regions. The presence of the J-1 mtDNA genotype within the A. j. schwartzi population on St. Vincent and the presence of the SV-1 genotype in two specimens of A. j. jamaicensis from Barbados document genetic exchange between subspecific populations on these islands, which are separated by 180 km of open water.