BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY, vol.108, no.1, pp.189-209, 2013 (SCI-Expanded)
The large Myotis complex in continental Europe, Asia Minor, and Transcaucasia comprises two sibling bat species, the greater mouse-eared bat, Myotis myotis, and the lesser mouse-eared bat, Myotis blythii, also referred to as Myotis oxygnathus. Here, we investigate the phylogeography of these bats using two mitochondrial markers: the second hypervariable domain of the control region (HVII) and a fragment of the cytochrome?b gene (cyt?b). The HVII haplotypes formed six distinct haplogroups associated with different geographical regions. Most of the European HVII haplotypes were exclusive to M.?myotis, whereas the majority of HVII haplotypes found in Asia Minor were exclusive to M.?blythii/M.?oxygnathus. The phylogenetic reconstruction based on the concatenated cyt?b and HVII fragments recovered two major lineages. The first lineage comprised samples from Europe (western lineage), and the second lineage included samples from Asia Minor, Transcaucasia, Crimea, Western Ukraine, Thrace, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe (eastern lineage). The mitochondrial lineage of M.?blythii, reported from Kyrgyzstan, was not present in Asia Minor and Transcaucasia. Therefore, we consider the possibility that the M.?blythii/M.?oxygnathus found in Europe, Asia Minor, and Transcaucasia are not recent descendants of the Central Asian M.?blythii. Instead, we suggest that M.?blythii/M.?oxygnathus and M.?myotis diverged through allopatric speciation in Asia Minor and Europe, and that they are represented by the eastern and western mitochondrial lineages. We also examine an alternative hypothesis: that the large Myotis complex consists of more than two species that diverged independently in Asia Minor and Europe through ecological speciation. (c) 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, , .