Genetic diversity of Italian greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and distinction of the Sardinian colonies
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Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, via A. Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)
Paul Langerhans Institut Dresden, Tatzberg 47/49, 01307 Dresden, Germany
Centro Pipistrelli Sardegna, Via G. Leopardi 1, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Environment Analysis and Management Unit – Guido Tosi Research Group, Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, University of Insubria, via J.-H. Dunant 3, 21100 Varese, Italy
Wildlife Research Unit, Sezione di Biologia e Protezione dei Sistemi Agrari e Forestali, Dipartimento di Agraria, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, via Università 100, 80055, Portici (Napoli), Italy
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, via A. Ferrata 1, 27100 PV
Online publication date: 2019-12-30
Publication date: 2019-12-30
Corresponding author
Nadia Mucci   

Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2019;30(2):141–148
Characterizing the genetic outfit of a species is fundamental to evaluate its status and devise optimal conservation plans to maintain or enhance the viability of its populations. The greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) underwent declines across Europe over the 19th century and was thus listed in the EU Habitat Directive and the species protection legislation of EU countries. To understand what is the state of the species in Italy, we described the genetic variability and population structure derived from 327 bats sampled in twenty-two Italian colonies. The analysis of the first part of the mitochondrial DNA control region (525 bp) and a panel of 12 microsatellite loci revealed high genetic variability throughout the study area and the presence of two genetically distinct groups: the Sardinian and the peninsular pools. We could also identify indications of a genetic substructure within the peninsular population, with a significant divergence concerning colonies located at the northern borders. Notably, the relevant genetic differentiation between Italian and Sardinian colonies should be carefully taken into account for conservation planning.
We thank Elena Genasi, Massimo Bertozzi, Elena Patriarca & Paolo Debernardi (Centro Regionale Chirotteri), Mara Calvini, Roberto Toffoli, Martina Spada, Pier Paolo De Pasquale, Antonio Ruggieri, Luca Lapini & Massimo Zanetti, Paolo Forconi and David Bianco for making this study possible.