We tested the effects of aspect ratio, wing loading and body size (forearm length) on four estimators of molecular diversity (based on mitochondrial D-loop and cytochrome-b DNA sequences) among eight Afro-Malagasy species of free-tailed (Family Molossidae) bats. As expected based on many previous animal studies conducted at broader taxonomic scales, FST was significantly negatively correlated with wing loading (a good proxy for dispersal ability), even after correcting for phylogeny. However, haplotype diversity, nucleotide diversity and k (the mean number of nucleotide differences between sequences) were not significantly correlated with body size, aspect ratio or wing loading. According to the metabolic rate hypothesis, we expected a significant negative correlation between k and body size. No such significant correlation was obtained, which is attributed to species differences in population size and the timing of past bottlenecks inferred from population demographic data.
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Vol. 14 • No. 1