Five New Species of Bats Discovered in West Africa

Posted on September 9, 2013

Nycticeinops schlieffenii

Scientists have discovered five new species of bats in West Africa. The international team of scientists included researchers from Czech University, Charles University and biologists from the University of York. Nycticeinops schlieffenii, pictured above, is one of the newly discovered bat species.

The scientists made seven expeditions to the Niokolo-Koba National Park in south-eastern Senegal. They found five species of bats that looked similar to other bat populations in Africa, but were genetically very different. The researchers studied 213 vespertilionid bats from Senegal and identified ten species, five of which were significantly genetically different from their nominate species. The five new species include: Pipistrellus hesperidus, Nycticeinops schlieffenii, Scotoecus hirundo, Neoromicia nana and Neoromicia somalica.

Nancy Irwin, of the Department of Biology at York, says in a release, "The fact that these Senegalese bats are unrelated and are different to their cousins in other parts of Africa, suggests that West Africa may have been isolated in the past and formed a refugium, where populations gradually diverged and even acquired new chromosomal configurations. This exciting finding confirms that West Africa may represent an underestimated bio-geographic hotspot with many more species to discover."

The University of York says taxonomists are now working on formally describing the new species. The new research is published here in the journal, Frontiers in Zoology.

Photo: Brock Fenton/University of York

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