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Flesch A.D.,University of Arizona | Flesch A.D.,University of Montana | Sanchez C.G.,Revista Churea | Amarillas J.V.,Naturalia France
Journal of Field Ornithology | Year: 2016

The Sierra Madre Occidental and neighboring Madrean Sky Islands span a large and biologically diverse region of northwest Mexico and portions of the southwestern United States. Little is known about the abundance and habitat use of breeding birds in this region of Mexico, but such information is important for guiding conservation and management. We assessed densities and habitat relationships of breeding birds across Sky Island mountain ranges in Mexico and adjacent portions of the Sierra Madre from 2009 to 2012. We estimated densities at multiple spatial scales, assessed variation in densities among all major montane vegetation communities, and identified and estimated the effects of important habitat attributes on local densities. Regional density estimates of 65% of 72 focal species varied significantly among eight montane vegetation communities that ranged from oak savannah and woodland at low elevations to pine and mixed-conifer forest at high elevations. Greater proportions of species occurred at peak densities or were relatively restricted to mixed-conifer forest and montane riparian vegetation likely because of higher levels of structural or floristic diversity in those communities, but those species were typically rare or uncommon in the Sky Islands. Fewer species had peak densities in oak and pine-oak woodland, and species associated with those communities were often more abundant across the region. Habitat models often included the effects of broadleaf deciduous vegetation cover (30% of species), which, together with tree density and fire severity, had positive effects on densities and suggest ways for managers to augment and conserve populations. Such patterns combined with greater threats to high-elevation conifer forest and riparian areas underscore their value for conservation. Significant populations of many breeding bird species, including some that are of concern or were not known to occur regionally or in mountain ranges we surveyed, highlight the importance of conservation efforts in this area of Mexico. © 2016 Association of Field Ornithologists.

Araiza M.,National University of Costa Rica | Carrillo L.,Conservation Breeding Specialist Group Mexico | List R.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Gonzalez C.A.L.,Autonomous University of Queretaro | And 7 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2012

Given the conflict with human interests that in many cases results in the extirpation of large carnivores, acceptance of their reintroduction is a considerable challenge. By the 1980s Mexican wolves (Canis lupus) were extinct in the wild. In 1998 a population was reintroduced in the Blue Range Mountains of New Mexico (U.S.A.). Efforts to reintroduce the species in Mexico have been ongoing since the late 1980s. Four teams working independently identified 6 areas in northern Mexico in the historic range of Mexican wolves, where reintroductions could potentially be successful. Each team used different methods and criteria to identify the areas, which makes it difficult to prioritize among these areas. Therefore, members of the different teams worked together to devise criteria for use in identifying priority areas. They identified areas with high, intermediate, and low potential levels of conflict between wolves and humans. Areas with low potential conflict had larger buffers (i.e., distance from human settlement to areas suitable for wolves) around human settlements than high- and intermediate-conflict areas and thus were thought most appropriate for the first reintroduction. High-conflict areas contained habitat associated with wolf presence, but were closer to human activity. The first reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Mexico occurred in October 2011 in one of the identified low-conflict areas. The identification of suitable areas for reintroduction represents a crucial step in the process toward the restoration of large carnivores. Choice of the first reintroduction area can determine whether the reintroduction is successful or fails. A failure may preclude future reintroduction efforts in a region or country. © 2012 Society for Conservation Biology.

PubMed | Russian Academy of Sciences, Masaryk University, Czech University of Life Sciences, Lebanese University and 16 more.
Type: | Journal: Molecular phylogenetics and evolution | Year: 2016

The isolation of populations in the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas during the ice ages define four main paradigms that explain much of the known distribution of intraspecific genetic diversity in Europe. In this study we investigated the phylogeography of a wide-spread bat species, the bent-winged bat, Miniopterus schreibersii around the Mediterranean basin and in the Caucasus. Environmental Niche Modeling (ENM) analysis was applied to predict both the current distribution of the species and its distribution during the last glacial maximum (LGM). The combination of genetics and ENM results suggest that the populations of M. schreibersii in Europe, the Caucasus and Anatolia went extinct during the LGM, and the refugium for the species was a relatively small area to the east of the Levantine Sea, corresponding to the Mediterranean coasts of present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and northeastern and northwestern Egypt. Subsequently the species first repopulated Anatolia, diversified there, and afterwards expanded into the Caucasus, continental Europe and North Africa after the end of the LGM. The fossil record in Iberia and the ENM results indicate continuous presence of Miniopterus in this peninsula that most probably was related to the Maghrebian lineage during the LGM, which did not persist afterwards. Using our results combined with similar findings in previous studies, we propose a new paradigm explaining the general distribution of genetic diversity in Europe involving the recolonization of the continent, with the main contribution from refugial populations in Anatolia and the Middle East. The study shows how genetics and ENM approaches can complement each other in providing a more detailed picture of intraspecific evolution.

Puechmaille S.J.,University College Dublin | Puechmaille S.J.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen) | Puechmaille S.J.,University of Greifswald | Allegrini B.,Naturalia France | And 7 more authors.
Zootaxa | Year: 2014

We used an integrative approach combining cranio-dental characters, mitochondrial and nuclear data and acoustic data to show the presence in the genus Miniopterus of a cryptic species from the Maghreb region. This species was previously recognised as Miniopterus schreibersii (Kuhl, 1817). Miniopterus maghrebensis sp. nov. can be differentiated from M. schreibersii sensu stricto on the basis of cranial characters and from mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite evidence. Al-though slight external morphological and acoustic differences were noted between the two species, these criteria alone did not allow reliable species identification from live animals. Based on the specimens identified morphologically and/or ge-netically, the distribution range of M. maghrebensis sp. nov. extends from northern Morocco to south of the High Atlas Mountains and northern Tunisia. The new cryptic species is found in sympatry with M. schreibersii s.str. near coastal regions of North Africa. Copyright © 2014 Magnolia Press.

Hulva P.,Charles University | Fornuskova A.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Fornuskova A.,Masaryk University | Chudarkova A.,Charles University | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2010

Here, we present a study of the Pipistrellus pipistrellus species complex, a highly diversified bat group with a radiation centre in the Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot. The study sample comprised 583 animals from 118 localities representatively covering the bats' range in the western Palearctic. We used fast-evolving markers (the mitochondrial D-loop sequence and 11 nuclear microsatellites) to describe the phylogeography, demography and population structure of this model taxon and address details of its diversification. The overall pattern within this group includes a mosaic of phylogenetically basal, often morphologically distant, relatively small and mostly allopatric demes in the Mediterranean Basin, as well as two sympatric sibling species in the large continental part of the range. The southern populations exhibit constant size, whereas northern populations show a demographic trend of growth associated with range expansion during the Pleistocene climate oscillations. There is evidence of isolation by distance and female philopatry in P. pipistrellus sensu stricto. Although the northern populations are reproductively isolated, we detected introgression events among several Mediterranean lineages. This pattern implies incomplete establishment of reproductive isolating mechanisms in these populations as well as the existence of a past reinforcement stage in the continental siblings. The occurrence of reticulations in the radiation centre among morphologically and ecologically derived relict demes suggests that adaptive unequal gene exchange within hybridizing populations could play a role in speciation and adaptive radiation within this group. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Puechmaille S.J.,University College Dublin | Puechmaille S.J.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen) | Allegrini B.,Naturalia France | Boston E.S.M.,University College Dublin | And 9 more authors.
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2012

In recent years, new cryptic mammalian species have been discovered in Europe, many of which belong to the order Chiroptera. Within this order, some species such as Myotis nattereri contain several cryptic lineages/species, especially in the Mediterranean region. Here we present genetic, phylogenetic and morphological analysis on the Myotis nattereri species complex, focusing on France which is thought to be a contact zone for the different lineages/species. We sequenced the full Cytochrome b gene from individuals from 23 localities and investigated diagnostic morphological characteristics. Our results reveal new phylogenetic relationships within the Myotis nattereri species complex and among closely related species. We discuss morphological characters which are synapomorphic to each lineage and can be used to differentiate them. Our results also demonstrate the presence of a new lineage within the Myotis nattereri species complex. This lineage, endemic to Corsica, possibly represents a new cryptic species for which we present preliminary ecological data. We further identify the presence of three lineages/species in France and detail their distribution with potential contact zones. © 2011 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.

Puechmaille S.J.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen) | Puechmaille S.J.,University College Dublin | Puechmaille S.J.,Tabachka Bat Research Station | Puechmaille S.J.,University of Greifswald | And 13 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Animals employ an array of signals (i.e. visual, acoustic, olfactory) for communication. Natural selection favours signals, receptors, and signalling behaviour that optimise the received signal relative to background noise. When the signal is used for more than one function, antagonisms amongst the different signalling functions may constrain the optimisation of the signal for any one function. Sexual selection through mate choice can strongly modify the effects of natural selection on signalling systems ultimately causing maladaptive signals to evolve. Echolocating bats represent a fascinating group in which to study the evolution of signalling systems as unlike bird songs or frog calls, echolocation has a dual role in foraging and communication. The function of bat echolocation is to generate echoes that the calling bat uses for orientation and food detection with call characteristics being directly related to the exploitation of particular ecological niches. Therefore, it is commonly assumed that echolocation has been shaped by ecology via natural selection. Here we demonstrate for the first time using a novel combined behavioural, ecological and genetic approach that in a bat species, Rhinolophus mehelyi: (1) echolocation peak frequency is an honest signal of body size; (2) females preferentially select males with high frequency calls during the mating season; (3) high frequency males sire more off-spring, providing evidence that echolocation calls may play a role in female mate choice. Our data refute the sole role of ecology in the evolution of echolocation and highlight the antagonistic interplay between natural and sexual selection in shaping acoustic signals. © 2014 Puechmaille et al.

PubMed | University of Greifswald, University College Dublin, Naturalia France and University of Cape Town
Type: | Journal: Molecular phylogenetics and evolution | Year: 2016

Despite many studies illustrating the perils of utilising mitochondrial DNA in phylogenetic studies, it remains one of the most widely used genetic markers for this purpose. Over the last decade, nuclear introns have been proposed as alternative markers for phylogenetic reconstruction. However, the resolution capabilities of mtDNA and nuclear introns have rarely been quantified and compared. In the current study we generated a novel 5kb dataset comprising six nuclear introns and a mtDNA fragment. We assessed the relative resolution capabilities of the six intronic fragments with respect to each other, when used in various combinations together, and when compared to the traditionally used mtDNA. We focused on a major clade in the horseshoe bat family (Afro-Palaearctic clade; Rhinolophidae) as our case study. This old, widely distributed and speciose group contains a high level of conserved morphology. This morphological stasis renders the reconstruction of the phylogeny of this group with traditional morphological characters complex. We sampled multiple individuals per species to represent their geographic distributions as best as possible (122 individuals, 24 species, 68 localities). We reconstructed the species phylogeny using several complementary methods (partitioned Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian and Bayesian multispecies-coalescent) and made inferences based on consensus across these methods. We computed pairwise comparisons based on Robinson-Foulds tree distance metric between all Bayesian topologies generated (27,000) for every gene(s) and visualised the tree space using multidimensional scaling (MDS) plots. Using our supported species phylogeny we estimated the ancestral state of key traits of interest within this group, e.g. echolocation peak frequency which has been implicated in speciation. Our results revealed many potential cryptic species within this group, even in taxa where this was not suspected a priori and also found evidence for mtDNA introgression. We demonstrated that by using just two introns one can recover a better supported species tree than when using the mtDNA alone, despite the shorter overall length of the combined introns. Additionally, when combining any single intron with mtDNA, we showed that the result is highly similar to the mtDNA gene tree and far from the true species tree and therefore this approach should be avoided. We caution against the indiscriminate use of mtDNA in phylogenetic studies and advocate for pilot studies to select nuclear introns. The selection of marker type and number is a crucial step that is best based on critical examination of preliminary or previously published data. Based on our findings and previous publications, we recommend the following markers to recover phylogenetic relationships between recently diverged taxa (<20 My) in bats and other mammals: ACOX2, COPS7A, BGN, ROGDI and STAT5A.

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