Genetic diversity of the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus in Ecuador: Testing cross-Andean gene flow
Pinto, Christian Miguel
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Without human intervention, species distributions are dictated by suitable environmental conditions and limited by geographic barriers, such as rivers, mountain systems, or other unsuitable habitats. An example of an effective barrier to gene flow is the Andes cordillera. In this study, we investigate whether the effects of human disturbance (e.g., cattle ranching, deforestation) can override the natural isolation of populations of the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) that occur on opposite sides of the Andes. In order to test this hypothesis we explore the genetic constitution of Ecuadorian populations of the common vampire bat, including samples collected in a Trans-Andean transect in southern Ecuador, ranging from 251 m on the western side up to an elevation to 2,142 m in its maximum level, and descending to 875 m on the eastern side. For 136 individuals, we sequenced the entire mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene (1,140 base pairs) and fragments of intron 7 of the nuclear fibrinogen, B beta polypeptide gene (705 base pairs). Analyses revealed high mitochondrial DNA structure between populations from opposite sides of the Andes, and little nuclear DNA structure among populations. This type of distribution of variation in the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes is indicative of an asymmetric dispersal pattern where gene flow between groups is mostly a result of male dispersal events. Results indicate that for some species the high human disturbance in the Andean region may result in sympatry of populations from each side of the Andes and permit contact and potential introgression of divergent populations.