Two alternative opinions on geographic variation and taxonomy of the genus Otonycteris are available in the literature; (1) the genus is rather invariable and includes one monotypic species, or (2) local populations of the genus are rather diverse and create up to five subspecies and/or represent a complex of more species. We analysed a relatively extensive material of Otonycteris from all essential parts of its distribution range, using both morphological and molecular genetic approaches to revise taxonomic status of the genus. Results of our analysis suggest rather manifold taxonomic arrangement of the genus. Morphological comparisons of cranial and bacular characters revealed three distinct geographically separated morphotypes in the set of examined bats; (1) in North Africa and in the western part of the Middle East (Levant and Mesopotamia), (2) in the eastern part of the Middle East (E Arabia and Iran) and (3) in Central Asia (incl. NE Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan). Molecular genetic comparisons of two mitochondrial genes revealed two deeply separated clades differing in uncorrected p-distances at > 11.8% (cytochrome b) and > 9.3% (ND1), respectively. These clades correspond with two groups of morphotypes, (1 2) and (3), and we therefore regard the respective populations as two separate species, O. hemprichii and O. leucophaea. Within the species rank of O. hemprichii sensu stricto, three sublineages were found, each tentatively considered to be a separate subspecies.
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