Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections

Date:
April 14, 2014
Source:
Field Museum
Summary:
Scientists have reconstructed the phylogeny and biological history for the Yellow-shouldered bats in the New World tropics, the region of the Earth surrounding the equator. In-depth analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences uncovered three species new to science, each having previously been confused with another species.

Scientists at Chicago's Field Museum and international collaborators have reconstructed the phylogeny and biological history for the Yellow-shouldered bats in the New World tropics, the region of  Earth surrounding the equator. In-depth analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences uncovered three species new to science, each having previously been confused with another species. Since 1960, when modern studies on this group began, Sturnira has grown from eight species to 22. The newest additions were described in a new study, published online in ZooKeys.

The New World tropics have long been recognized as a region teeming with some of the richest biodiversity on Earth. It is home to a group of small, fruit-eating bats ranging from half-an-ounce to three ounces in size. The bats belong to the genus Sturnira, commonly named yellow-shouldered bats, which are found from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. One species in particular, Sturnira lilium, has figured among the most widespread and locally abundant bats of the New World topics.

"A curator's job is to bring order out of chaos," said Bruce Patterson, PhD, MacArthur Curator of Mammals at The Field Museum. "This group of bats offered an excellent opportunity study the process of species formation across the entire New World tropics."

Paϊl Velazco, PhD, who formerly worked at The Field Museum and now is with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is the lead author on the new study. Velazco and Patterson began their endeavor by collecting 38 samples of six species from three countries. They also borrowed 94 samples from 24 countries from museums around the world in order to complete the project, highlighting the importance of museum collections for the growing body of scientific knowledge.

The researchers isolated DNA from a small portion of liver or muscle samples that had been frozen or preserved from each specimen. They then amplified and sequenced two nuclear and three mitochondrial genes from each tissue, amounting to nearly 5,000 base pairs of DNA, from over 120 individuals.

"We chose these genes because they have proven useful for classification of related groups of bats," said Velazco. "Mitochondrial sequences tend to be fast-evolving and informative about very recent evolutionary splits, while nuclear genes tend to be slow-evolving and shed light on more ancient divergence events."

By sequencing both classes of DNA, the researchers could recover the group's entire history, which stretches back about 8 million years.

Every museum specimen that was sequenced already had both a name and a geographic distribution. However, the sequence analysis led the investigators to believe that some of the branch labels were incorrect. Indeed, after re-examining the museum specimens associated with each sample, they found that nearly 20 percent of the specimens had been incorrectly labeled!

How could so many individual animals have been misidentified? The answer lies within technology.

"The differences between species are often subtle, and difficult to describe in writing. The historic literature lacked access to the visual documentation that we rely on today, such as color photography and digital libraries," said Patterson. "For this reason, small and imprecisely described morphological differences were often overlooked during the original identification of the specimens. This type of error pervades all biological collections."

Their results identified three species entirely new to science, and provided evidence for the elevation of three subspecies to the species level. Two of the new species are described in the ZooKeys article.

In the process, Velazco and Patterson were able to revise the supposed geographic range of Sturnira lilium. Instead of extending from Mexico to Argentina, the real Sturnira lilium is limited to Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. The rest of its presumed range is occupied by six other close relatives that replace one another in jigsaw-like fashion across the Neotropics.

The distribution of Sturnira species across most of the New World tropics and its diversification throughout its eight-million-year existence make it informative for other sorts of biological reconstructions, such as the seed plants upon which it feeds.

In addition to its scientific usefulness, this study demonstrates the need for the ongoing revision of Earth's biological history, and highlights the immense value of museum collections in uncovering new knowledge.

"For this particular group of mammals, we are much closer that we were in framing their diversity, although there may be additional Sturnira out there," said Patterson. "Over the years, I've learned that no one has the last word in science."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Field Museum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul Velazco, Bruce Patterson. Two new species of yellow-shouldered bats, genus Sturnira Gray, 1842 (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) from Costa Rica, Panama and western Ecuador. ZooKeys, 2014; 402: 43 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.402.7228

Cite This Page:

Field Museum. "Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414123753.htm>.
Field Museum. (2014, April 14). Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414123753.htm
Field Museum. "Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414123753.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Two New Species of Yellow-Shouldered Bats Endemic to the Neotropics

Apr. 16, 2014 — Lying forgotten in museum collections, two new species of yellow-shouldered bats have been unearthed by scientists. These two new additions to the genus Sturnira are part of a recent discovery of ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins