Fur Coloring Defines Subgenera of Bats

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The new issue of the Journal of Mammalogy features an article examining the Myotis genus, a large and diverse group of bats. The study enabled the authors to conclude that fur color was a key feature for distinguishing among Chrysopteron bats, a Myotis subgenus.

Journal of Mammalogy Volume 95 Issue 4

Journal of Mammalogy – The Myotis genus consists of a large, diverse group of bats, making it difficult for scientists to clearly define the 7 Myotis subgenera. Without clear distinctions, tracking the development and health of individual bat species becomes more challenging.

In one particular Myotis subgenus, Chrysopteron, coloring has been assumed to vary from species to species, yet little work has been done to pinpoint differences in the bats’ fur tones. An article in the current issue of the Journal of Mammalogy examines these color differences, suggests other characteristics to clarify, and revisions to the groupings of these bats.

Myotis bats are found in many parts of the world and in varying environments. The bats in the Chrysopteron subgenera have traditionally been considered Asian and African species. The patchwork of colors of their wing membranes has long been a defining feature.

For this review, the authors went through material and specimens from more than 20 collections worldwide. They looked at external, skull, and dental characteristics, as well as genetic data. In their review, the authors describe the distinguishing characteristics of 6 species, as well as the history of their classification and the countries in which they have been found.

They define the Chrysopteron subgenus as containing species with striking reddish or yellowish fur on their back, unlike other species in the Myotis genus. The hairs of that fur also seem to have a distinctive thick, wooly quality, which is the source of one common name for Chrysopteron species: “hairy bats.” Only 2 Chrysopteron species, from islands in the Indian Ocean, do not have such thick fur, but the authors retained them in the Chrysopteron subgenus because of their fur color.

Although most of the species studied were long thought to be closely related, the authors of the current review found that some relationships were misplaced, and they argue for a revised family tree. One species in particular, Myotis formosus sensu lato, was found to have several distinct forms, regardless of whether they were widely separated geographically or lived in the same area, such as Taiwan.

The authors concluded that fur color was a key feature for distinguishing among Chrysopteron bats, because they have cranial and dental features similar to those of all other bats in the Myotis genus. The review recognizes 6 species and clarifies their relationships to one another, their geographic range, and their defining characteristics.

Full text of the article “The reds and the yellows: A review of Asian Chrysopteron Jentink, 1910 (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae: Myotis),” Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 95, No. 4, 2014, is now available.


About the Journal of Mammalogy
The Journal of Mammalogy, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mammalogists, is produced six times per year. A highly respected scientific journal, it details the latest research in the science of mammalogy and was recently named one of the top 100 most influential journals of biology and medicine in the last century by the Special Libraries Association.

For more information, visit http://www.mammalogy.org/.

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Taylor Fulton
Allen Press, Inc.
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