The Skull Integration Pattern and Internal Constraints in Myotis myotisMyotis blythii Species Group (Vespertilionidae, Chiroptera) Might be Shaped by Natural Selection During Evolution Along the Genetic Line of Least Resistance

  • Igor DzeverinEmail author
Research Article


Evolutionary dynamics of covariation patterns in craniometric traits was studied for bats from the Myotis myotisMyotis blythii species group (Mammalia, Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) namely M.m.myotis, M.b.oxygnathus, M.b.omari, M.b.blythii, and M.b.altaicus. These species evolved towards increasing the size. One more species, M.dasycneme, which is phylogenetically, morphologically, and ecologically rather distant from these OTUs, also was studied for comparison with them. A set of 30 craniometric traits was studied for each of the OTUs using the quantitative genetics approaches. Phenotypic covariance matrices were used as proxies for additive genetic covariance matrices. The analysis has shown that multivariate divergence of the studied Myotis OTUs was governed by selection rather than by random drift and that these OTUs evolved in the direction close to the line of least evolutionary resistance. As overall size increases, the skull integration, respondability, and evolvability increase, while flexibility slightly decreases. Such a pattern can possibly be explained as a consequence of adaptation of M.blythii and especially M.myotis to prey on considerably large hard-shelled insects. A high cohesion of skull structures is needed for the effective functioning of their jaw apparatus. For Myotis bats with other foraging strategies (such as M. dasycneme that catches insects mainly using the claws of hind feet) this cohesion seems to be of lesser importance.


Myotis Craniometric traits Phenotypic and genetic covariance Lines of least evolutionary resistance Natural selection Developmental constraints 



While having studied bat evolution, I always had opportunity to discuss the problems, results, and new data with Eugenia I. Kozhurina (1956–2016) and Peter P. Strelkov (1931–2012). They helped me a lot with advice, criticisms and friendly support when I was starting the research, the results of which are presented in this paper. I am grateful to Maria Ghazali for discussion, criticisms, and helpful recommendations. Thanks also are due to Daniela M. Rossoni for valuable comments. I thank the reviewers for helpful comments, suggestions and criticisms. I thank the following curators and collection staff who provided access to Myotis specimens: I. K. Rakhmatulina (Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology, Baku, Azerbaijan); L. S. Shevchenko (Zoological Museum of National Museum of Natural History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine); N. M. Paskhina (Department of Vertebrate Zoology of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia); G. I. Baranova, P. P. Strelkov (Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg, Russia); L. M. Pisareva, Zh. V. Rozora (Zoological Museum of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, Kiev, Ukraine); O. L. Rossolimo, I. Ya. Pavlinov, E. L. Yakhontov (Zoological Museum of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schmalhausen Institute of ZoologyKievUkraine

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