We undertook analyses of mitochondrial DNA gene sequences and echolocation calls to resolve phylogenetic relationships among the related bat taxa Rhinolophus pusillus (sampled across China), R. monoceros (Taiwan), R. cornutus (main islands of Japan), and R. c. pumilus (Okinawa, Japan). Phylogenetic trees and genetic divergence analyses were constructed by combining new complete mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene sequences and partial mitochondrial control region sequences with published sequences. Our work showed that these 4 taxa formed monophyletic groups in the phylogenetic tree. However, low levels of sequence divergence among the taxa, together with similarities in body size and overlapping echolocation call frequencies, point to a lack of taxonomic distinctiveness. We therefore suggest that these taxa are better considered as geographical subspecies rather than distinct species, although this should not diminish the conservation importance of these island populations, which are important evolutionarily significant units. Based on our findings, we suggest that the similarities in body size and echolocation call frequency in these rhinolophids result from their recent common ancestry, whereas similarities in body size and call frequency with R. hipposideros of Europe are the result of convergent evolution.
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