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Interrogating discordance resolves relationships in the rapid radiation of Old World fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae)


Nesi, Nicolas et al. (2021), Interrogating discordance resolves relationships in the rapid radiation of Old World fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae), Dryad, Dataset,


The family Pteropodidae (Old World fruit bats) comprises >200 species distributed across the Old World tropics and subtropics. Most pteropodids feed on fruit, suggesting an early origin of frugivory, although several lineages have shifted to nectar-based diets. Pteropodids are of exceptional conservation concern with >50% of species considered threatened, yet the systematics of this group has long been debated, with uncertainty surrounding early splits attributed to an ancient rapid diversification. Resolving the relationships among the main pteropodid lineages is essential if we are to fully understand their evolutionary distinctiveness, and the extent to which these bats have transitioned to nectar-feeding. Here we generated orthologous sequences for >1400 nuclear protein-coding genes (2.8 million base-pairs) across 114 species from 43 genera of Old World fruit bats (57% and 96% of extant species- and genus-level diversity, respectively), and combined phylogenomic inference with filtering by information content to resolve systematic relationships among the major lineages. Concatenation and coalescent-based methods recovered three distinct backbone topologies that were not able to be reconciled by filtering via phylogenetic information content. Concordance analysis and gene genealogy interrogation shows that one topology is consistently the best supported, and that observed phylogenetic conflicts arise from both gene tree error and deep incomplete lineage sorting. In addition to resolving long-standing inconsistencies in the reported relationships among major lineages, we show that Old World fruit bats have likely undergone at least seven independent dietary transitions from frugivory to nectarivory. Finally, we use this phylogeny to identify and describe one new genus.


Horizon 2020, Award: 753367

National Museum of Natural History