Two New Cryptic Bat Species within the Myotis Nattereri Species Complex (Vespertilionidae, Chiroptera) from the Western Palaearctic
The Myotis nattereri species complex consists of an entangled group of Western Palaearctic bats characterized by fringing hairs along the rear edge of their uropatagium. Some members are relatively common while others are rare but all forms are morphologically very similar and their taxonomy is unresolved. Recent studies based on different molecular markers have shown that several major and unexpected lineages exist within this group of forest-dwelling bats. All the mitochondrial and nuclear markers tested to date have shown that these major lineages evolved as fully independent and coherent units and therefore each qualifies as distinct species. In the absence of proper morphological diagnosis, these lineages are informally referred to in the literature under different names. We explore here the external and craniodental variation of these lineages. Although all morphological measurements were overlapping between these lineages, we show that lineages can be completely discriminated in a multivariate morphometric space. Consistent with previous molecular reconstructions, these four major lineages represent two pairs of related species, each represented by a named species (Myotis nattereri s. str. and M. escalerai, respectively) and by unnamed forms (Myotis sp. A and Myotis sp. B, respectively). Herein we describe formally these two unnamed forms to clarify the taxonomy within this species complex. This new taxonomic view has important implication for the protection of these species, as three of the four taxa must now be considered as range-restricted species in need of conservation actions.
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