The common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus Geoffroy, 1810, is a species with an extensive geographical distribution, occurring in a wide variety of habitats. A recent phylogeographical study using molecular markers described a scenario in which this species is formed by 5 distinct geographically circumscribed mitochondrial clades. Here we studied the craniometric variation of the common vampire bat to assess the amount of subdivision within this species and to test for the possibility of distinct morphological patterns associated with geographical lineages. We used 16 measurements from 1,581 complete skulls of adult D. rotundus representing 226 localities in South America and Mesoamerica. The assessment of morphological diversity between groups was done by the estimation of minimum FST values. Overall, the results show that most of the within-species variation is a result of the size component. Both shape data and size data are correlated with geographic distances. Our results favor the origin of biological diversity as the outcome of genetic drift and stepping-stone pattern of gene flow instead of local adaptations to local environmental conditions. The FST analyses also support male-biased dispersal. The results give little evidence to support previous suggestions that the common vampire bat may be composed of 2 or more species.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2