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The Gambian epauletted fruit bat shows increased genetic divergence in the Ethiopian highlands and in an area of rapid urbanization

Abstract : The Gambian epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus gambianus) is an abundant species that roosts in both urban and rural settings. The possible role of E. gambianus as a reservoir host of zoonotic diseases underlines the need to better understand the species movement patterns. So far, neither observational nor phylogenetic studies have identified the dispersal range or behavior of this species. Comparative analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear markers from 20 localities across the known distribution of E. gambianus showed population panmixia, except for the populations in Ethiopia and southern Ghana (Accra and Ve‐Golokwati). The Ethiopian population may be ancestral and is highly divergent to the species across the rest of its range, possibly reflecting isolation of an ancient colonization along an east–west axis. Mitochondrial haplotypes in the Accra population display a strong signature of a past bottleneck event; evidence of either an ancient or recent bottleneck using microsatellite data, however, was not detected. Demographic analyses identified population expansion in most of the colonies, except in the female line of descent in the Accra population. The molecular analyses of the colonies from Ethiopia and southern Ghana show gender dispersal bias, with the mitochondrial DNA fixation values over ten times those of the nuclear markers. These findings indicate free mixing of the species across great distances, which should inform future epidemiological studies.
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Silke Riesle‐sbarbaro, Kofi Amponsah‐mensah, Stefan de Vries, Violaine Nicolas, Aude Lalis, et al.. The Gambian epauletted fruit bat shows increased genetic divergence in the Ethiopian highlands and in an area of rapid urbanization. Ecology and Evolution, Wiley Open Access, 2018, 8 (24), pp.12803-12820. ⟨10.1002/ece3.4709⟩. ⟨hal-01980469⟩

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