A lesson given by Tropical bats: a varied diet is key to species diversification
Published in 23/1/2019
An important step was taken in understanding the ancestral but poorly understood relationship between food and species diversification through the study of the diet of South American noctilionoid bats. In the case of this bat, which divides into more than 200 species in an unparalleled diversity among mammals, the team assert that their varied diet is the key to explain the enormous genetic diversification. Until now, studies with birds and mammals have suggested that exclusively herbivorous feeding increases the rate of formation of new species. However, for omnivores - animals that include plant and animal products in their diet - there was no clear pattern: in some bats, a diversified diet seems to slow the rate of species formation, while in ungulate mammals such as deer or antelope, the opposite occurs. This study, recently published in the journal Ecology Letters, has elucidated the relationship between the type of diet and the formation of species. This research shows that in nytilionoid bats, a group of more than 200 species that inhabit the tropics of the New World, lineages with an omnivorous diet produce more long-term generations than lineages that feed strictly on plants or other animals.
More details: https://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/detail.asp?c=53464&lg=pt