Neotropical bats: estimating species diversity with DNA barcodes

PloS One
Elizabeth L ClareP D N Hebert


DNA barcoding using the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (COI) is frequently employed as an efficient method of species identification in animal life and may also be used to estimate species richness, particularly in understudied faunas. Despite numerous past demonstrations of the efficiency of this technique, few studies have attempted to employ DNA barcoding methodologies on a large geographic scale, particularly within tropical regions. In this study we survey current and potential species diversity using DNA barcodes with a collection of more than 9000 individuals from 163 species of Neotropical bats (order Chiroptera). This represents one of the largest surveys to employ this strategy on any animal group and is certainly the largest to date for land vertebrates. Our analysis documents the utility of this tool over great geographic distances and across extraordinarily diverse habitats. Among the 163 included species 98.8% possessed distinct sets of COI haplotypes making them easily recognizable at this locus. We detected only a single case of shared haplotypes. Intraspecific diversity in the region was high among currently recognized species (mean of 1.38%, range 0-11.79%) with respect to birds, though comparable to othe...Continue Reading


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