University of Illinois at Chicago

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Comparative Phylogeography of bats in South America

posted on 2023-12-01, 00:00 authored by Natalia Cortes-Delgado
South America is megadiverse. It provides habitat for 25% of all mammal species and holds the world’s richest bat fauna. Such species diversity is the result of varied habitats and climatic conditions, but it is also a consequence of a long evolutionary history and changing geographic setting. The Andes, the longest terrestrial mountain chain in the world, has been recognized as one of the crucial factors in the shaping of species diversity and distribution patterns in South America. It has served to isolate lowland populations and connect montane ones, while presenting a great diversity of habitats along its slopes. The Andes support one of the richest bat faunas in the world, but the drivers of this diversity are not well understood especially in view of bat vagility. To establish the effect of the Andes on bat population structure, the species Sturnira bogotensis, Sturnira erythromos, Artibeus fraterculus, and Glossophaga soricina will be the main focus. These species are of great interest, owed to their widespread and contrasting distributions on both the east and west sides of the Andes. Both species of Sturnira are highland species, while A. fraterculus and G. soricina are lowland species. It is expected that the highland species will be more capable of dispersing through montane passes, and so, would have higher gene flow and thus weaker population structure than the lowland species. This work has two main aims. First, to analyze the evolutionary processes that are related to genetic structure in bat populations. Second, evaluate the effect of the Andes uplift on the divergence and structuring of populations of species of the bat genera Sturnira, Artibeus and Glossophaga. Using ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and one mitochondrial gene as markers, it was found that the lowland bat Glossophaga soricina, is composed by two lineages separated by the Andes. In contrast, populations of the also lowland bat Artibeus fraterculus present on the East side of the Andes showed slight structure caused by the Andes, which could be related to recent colonization. Lastly, according to phylogenetic analyses the highland bats Sturnira bogotensis and Sturnira erythromos do not displayed structure as expected, which could be related to their vagility, the use of low passes, and the use of the Andean cloud forests as north -south corridors.



Roberta Mason-Gamer - Advisor


Biological Sciences

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Bruce D. Patterson -Advisor John Bates Mary Ashley Joseph Walker

Thesis type



  • en

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