Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version



Occasional Papers / Museum of Texas Tech University (March 7, 2017), number 345.


Copyright 2017, Museum of Texas Tech University. Used by permission.


Species endemic to oceanic islands offer unique insights into the mechanisms underlying evolution and have served as model systems for decades. Often these species show phenotypic variation that is correlated with the ecosystems in which they occur and such correlations may be a product of genetic drift, natural selection, and/or environmental factors. We explore the morphologic and genetic variation within Ardops nichollsi, a species of phyllostomid bat endemic to the Lesser Antillean islands. Ardops nichollsi is an ideal taxon to investigate the tempo of evolution in Chiroptera, as it: is a recently derived genus in the family Phyllostomidae; contains intraspecific morphological variation; and has a restricted insular distribution. To evaluate patterns of evolution in A. nichollsi, we used standard morphological analyses, in addition to analyzing Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms, mitochondrial cytochrome-b, and paternal marker zinc finger Y-chromosomal intron DNA sequence data. Our results identified a pattern that consists of two distinct evolutionary lineages, which correspond to northern and southern islands of the Lesser Antilles. We also describe a new subspecies from the southern island of Saint Vincent. These results indicate gene flow among northern Lesser Antillean populations during the Pleistocene, and local adaptation to individual islands in the southern Lesser Antilles. Our findings can be used to further explore speciation processes within Caribbean bats and, more broadly, within species distributed across other insular systems.