Ecological character displacement in mandibular morphology of three sympatric horseshoe bats
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King’s College London, Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, London, United Kingdom
Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13., Budapest, Hungary
University Ovidius Constanţa, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Al. Universităţii, corp B, Constanţa, Romania
Institute of Speleology “Emil Racoviţǎ” of Romanian Academy, Calea 13 Septembrie, No. 13, 050711, Bucharest, Romania
Online publication date: 2019-06-04
Publication date: 2019-06-04
Corresponding author
Raluca Bancila   

Institute of Speleology “Emil Racoviţǎ” of Romanian Academy
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2019;30(1):51–58
To understand how interactions among three medium-sized rhinolophid species, Rhinolophus blasii, R. euryale and R. mehelyi affect the evolution of their phenotype we studied the variation of morphological patterns in allopatric and sympatric populations. We used 2D landmark-based geometric morphometrics to test whether shape and size of the skull and the mandible change when in sympatry. To disentangle interspecific interactions from sexual dimorphism and effects of environmental gradients the dataset was controlled for sex and geographical variables (e.g. longitude). Our study revealed two main morphological change patterns: (i) ecological character displacement in mandible shape and size and (ii) ecological sexual dimorphism in mandible shape. No patterns of morphological change in size or shape of the lateral or ventral skull views were detected either in sympatry or allopatry or along the geographical gradient. Our results suggested the coexistence of R. blasii, R. euryale and R. mehelyi is likely due to dietary separation but we cannot rule out that it might be facilitated by a combination of factors including different habitat use, commuting distances, behavioural strategies and prey-capture methods.
We thank Tomasz Postawa for his constructive comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript. We also thank Frank Zachos, Alexander Bibl and Dominique Zimmermann (NHMW) for providing access to the specimens under their care, to the two anonymous reviewers for their significant contribution on the early version of the manuscript and to Nicu Cuceru for the graphs editing. The work of AD was supported by SYNTHESYS financed by the European Community Research Infrastructure Action under the FP7 “Capacities” Program (AT-TAF 1690 and HU-TAF 2101). The data analysis was partly supported from the MySMIS 120009 grant.