Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Genetic characterization of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat (Emballonura semicaudata rotensis) using mitochondrial DNA sequence data

December 3, 2013

Emballonura semicaudata occurs in the southwestern Pacific and populations on many islands have declined or disappeared. One subspecies (E. semicaudata rotensis) occurs in the Northern Mariana Islands, where it has been extirpated from all but 1 island (Aguiguan). We assessed genetic similarity between the last population of E. s. rotensis and 2 other subspecies, and examined genetic diversity on Aguiguan. We sampled 12 E. s. rotensis, sequenced them at 3 mitochondrial loci, and compared them with published sequences from 2 other subspecies. All 12 E. s. rotensis had identical sequences in each of the 3 regions. Using cytochrome-b (Cytb) data E. s. rotensis was sister to E. s. palauensis in a clade separate from E. s. semicaudata. 12S ribosomal RNA (12S) sequences grouped all E. s. semicaudata in 1 clade with E. s. rotensis in a clade by itself. Genetic distances among the 3 subspecies at Cytb were smallest between E. s. palauensis and E. s. rotensis. Distance between E. s. semicaudata and the other 2 subspecies was not different from the distance between E. s. semicaudata and the full species E. raffrayana. A similar relationship was found using the 12S data. These distances are larger than those typically reported for mammalian subspecies using Cytb sequence and within the range of sister species.