Morphometrics of Myotis blythii from Crete: A taxonomic transition or an island effect?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:P. Georgiakakis, Kaidatzi, S., Benda, P.
Start Page:139
Type of Article:
Keywords:Crete, morphology, Mouse-eared bats, Myotis, taxonomy

Taxonomy of the mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis species group) in the western Palaearctic have undergone several revisions in the recent decades, under the light of distributional, morphological and genetic investigations. However, in many eastern Mediterranean islands, taxonomic questions regarding this complex remain open. Here we compare a large set of samples of Myotis blythii from Crete with conspecific population samples from the Lesvos island (North Aegean, Greece) and from the circum-Mediterranean region, incl. Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia, in order to elucidate the taxonomic position of the Cretan populations. Statistical analyses showed the Cretan lesser mouse-eared bats to have an intermediate forearm length and skull size, but the masticatory apparatus is significantly smaller than in the comparative populations. Our results suggest that the previous assignment of the Cretan populations of M. blythii to the Middle Eastern subspecies M. b. omari is not justifiable. Feeding ecology and genetic studies are needed in order to understand whether the Cretan mouse-eared bat is a taxonomic transition between the smaller M. b. oxygnathus occurring in southern Europe and the larger M. b. omari inhabiting the eastern Mediterranean including Iran and the Caucasus region as also formerly suggested, or whether it is shaped by the influence of the island effect and diet specialisation.

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