Ecological character displacement in mandibular morphology of three sympatric horseshoe bats
Anca Dragu 1
Gábor Csorba 2
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Institute of Speleology “Emil Racoviţǎ” of Romanian Academy
Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13., Budapest, Hungary
Raluca Bancila   

Institute of Speleology “Emil Racoviţǎ” of Romanian Academy
Online publish date: 2019-06-04
Publish date: 2019-06-04
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 geo-metric 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 envi-ronmental 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 distanc-es, behavioural strategies and prey-capture methods.