Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 391-410

Review of the Origins and Biogeography of Bats in South America

K. Lim, Burton

In spite of the fact that South America was an insular continent for most of the Tertiary, it has the highest species diversity for many organismal groups, including bats. However, the colonization of South America by bats has been poorly studied, even though they are the second most speciose order of mammals. A review of taxonomy, systematics, distribution, and the fossil record suggest that there were several dispersals to South America within 3 superfamilies of bats (Emballonuroidea, Noctilionoidea, and Vespertilionoidea). The reconstruction of ancestral areas based on a phylogeny of bats infers that Africa is the geographic area of origin for most basal nodes. This implies that the diversification of Neotropical species in Noctilionoidea occurred after a single colonization of South America from Africa in the Eocene by an ancestor of the New World families Furipteridae, Mormoopidae, Noctilionidae, Phyllostomidae, and Thyropteridae. Within Emballonuroidea, a similar trans-Atlantic dispersal in the Oligocene gave rise to the New World tribe Diclidurini in the family Emballonuridae. The situation for Vespertilionoidea is more complex with multiple dispersals in 3 families (Molossidae, Natalidae, and Vespertilionidae). For Molossidae, there are hypothesized 5 dispersals to South America from Africa beginning in the Eocene but the exact timing and origin of these colonizations a