Concordant patterns of genetic, acoustic, and morphological divergence in the West African Old World leaf-nosed bats of the Hipposideros caffer complex

Heather J. Baldwin, Peter Vallo*, A. Tonatiuh Ruiz, Priscilla Anti, Evans E. Nkrumah, Ebenezer K. Badu, Samuel K. Oppong, Elisabeth K.V. Kalko, Marco Tschapka, Adam J. Stow

*Corresponding author for this work

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Levels of biodiversity are globally underestimated, especially in tropical ecosystems. This is particularly so for bats compared to other mammalian taxa, due to morphological conservatism. Here, we investigate West African bats of the Hipposideros caffer complex, an insectivorous bat group occurring throughout the Afrotropics. From samples collected in Ghana, we aim to resolve the cryptic diversity identified by mitochondrial (mt) DNA using nuclear genetic, acoustic, and external morphometric data. We confirmed the presence of four previously established mtDNA lineages within the H. caffer complex and found significant genetic divergence among lineages based on nuclear microsatellite data and significant differences in frequencies of echolocation calls and morphometric measures. From these new data, we conclude that H. caffer complex in West Africa consists of at least four distinct species. While the small-sized species from coastal savanna could be assigned to H. caffer tephrus, the taxonomic identity of the three sympatric, similarly sized species pertaining to H. ruber from the forest zone of Central Ghana is yet to be assessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1390-1407
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cytochrome b
  • Hipposideridae
  • Hipposideros ruber
  • nuclear microsatellites
  • phylogeny


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