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Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections
Date:4/14/2014

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 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. 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."

Pal 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
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Contact: Nancy O'Shea
noshea@fieldmuseum.org
312-665-7103
Field Museum
Source:Eurekalert

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