Scientists discover new bat species in West Africa

Sep 03, 2013

An international team of scientists, including biologists from, the University of York, has discovered five new species of bats in West Africa.

The team, which also included researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences and the Academy of Sciences, Charles University in the Czech Republic, discovered a wealth of unexpected diversity among Vesper bats in Senegal.

During seven expeditions to the Niokolo-Koba National Park in south-eastern Senegal, and subsequent , the scientists discovered that five species of bats looked similar to other populations in Africa, but differed significantly genetically from them.

Taxonomists are now working on describing formally these new species – Vesper bats (Vespertilionidae) are already the largest family of bats with more than 400 known species. The research is published in Frontiers in Zoology.

The researchers studied 213 vespertilionid bats from Senegal and identified ten species, five of which were significantly genetically different from their nominate species —Pipistrellus hesperidus, Nycticeinops schlieffenii, Scotoecus hirundo, Neoromicia nana and Neoromicia somalica.

One of the research team, Nancy Irwin, of the Department of Biology at York, says: "The fact that these Senegalese bats are unrelated and are different to their cousins in other parts of Africa, suggests that West Africa may have been isolated in the past and formed a refugium, where populations gradually diverged and even acquired new chromosomal configurations.

"This exciting finding confirms that West Africa may represent an underestimated bio-geographic hotspot with many more species to discover."

Explore further: Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

More information: Koubinova, D. et al. Hidden Diversity in Senegalese Bats and Associated Findings in the Systematics of the Family Vespertilionidae, Frontiers in Zoology.

Related Stories

Large moths need to hear better

Aug 19, 2013

Bats orient themselves through echolocation, and they find their prey by emitting calls and then process the echoes reflected back to them from the prey. Small insects reflect small echo signals, and large ...

One of UK's rarest bats spotted in Wiltshire woods

Aug 22, 2013

During a night of bat trapping on Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Blackmoor Copse nature reserve, Phil Brown, an MSc student at the University of Bristol, identified a barbastelle bat. This is the first confirmed ...

Recommended for you

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

13 hours ago

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope ...

Godwits are flexible... when they get the chance

May 29, 2015

Black-tailed godwits are able to cope with unpredictable weather. This was revealed by a thorough analysis of the extraordinary spring of 2013 by ecologist Nathan Senner of the University of Groningen and ...

Do you have the time? Flies sure do

May 28, 2015

Flies might be smarter than you think. According to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 28, fruit flies know what time of day it is. What's more, the insects can learn to con ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.