J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (4): 719-732.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12924

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Phenotypic traits evolution and morphological traits associated with echolocation calls in cryptic horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae)

Ada Chornelia1,2 and Alice C. Hughes3*   

  1. 1 Landscape Ecology Group, Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun 666303, Yunnan, China;
    2 International College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, China
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: ach_conservation2@hotmail.com
  • Received:2022-07-09 Revised:2022-10-15 Online:2022-10-21 Published:2023-07-01

Abstract: Bats provide an excellent casestudy for studying evolution due to their remarkable flight and echolocation capabilities. In this study, we sought to understand the phenotypic evolution of key traits in Rhinolophidae (horseshoe bats) using phylogenetic comparative methods. We aimed to test the phylogenetic signals of traits, and evaluated the best-fit evolutionary models given the data for each trait considering different traits may evolve under different models (i.e., Brownian Motion [BM], Ornstein-Uhlenbeck [OU], and Early Burst [EB]) and reconstruct ancestral character states. We examined how phenotypic characters are associated with echolocation calls and minimum detectable prey size. We measured 34 traits of 10 Asian rhinolophids species (187 individuals). We found that the majority of traits showed a high phylogenetic signal based on Blomberg′s K and Pagel′s λ, but each trait may evolve under different evolutionary models. Sella traits were shown to evolve under stabilizing selection based on OU models, indicating sella traits have the tendency to move forward along the branches toward some medial value in equilibrium. Our findings highlight the importance of sella characters in association with echolocation call emissions in Rhinolophidae, as calls are important for spatial cognition and also influence dietary preferences. Minimum detectable prey size in Rhinolophidae was associated with call frequency, bandwidth, call duration, wingspan, and wing surface area. Ultimately, understanding trait evolution requires sensitivity due to the differential selective pressures which may apply to different characteristics.

Key words: Brownian Motion, Early Burst, echolocation, Ornstein‐Uhlenbeck, phylogenetic signals, traits evolution