First record of Plecotus long-eared bat from Southeast Asia with first data on classification, chromosome morphology and bioacoustics of long-eared Hodgson Plecotus homochrous bat from Vietnam

Long-eared bats of the genus Plecotus are known to appear mainly in the Palaearctic Region, the tropical regions of Africa (Afrotropical) and the Indochinese ecological region. In 2014, four specimens of the long-eared Plecotus bat were collected at an altitude of over 1,800 meters above sea level in a mountainous forest in Hoang Lien National Park, Lao Cai province, northern Vietnam. This represents the first record of the long-eared Plecotus bat from the Indochina sub-region and significantly extends the distribution border of the genus Plecotus to the south.

Detailed morphological and phylogenetic comparisons based on the mitochondrial gene region showed that the specimens collected in Vietnam belonged to the Hodgson long-eared mosquito bat, Plecotus homochrous, a species of bat living in the high mountains of the Himalayas range.

Moreover, for the first time, the research results of a group of experts from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in collaboration with Japanese and Hungarian experts within the framework of the Program to carry out the international cooperation mission on science and technology at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology level with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (code: QTJP.02/18-20) and University of Tokyo, Kyoto (Japan), provided complete information on the morphological, bioacoustic and chromosomal characteristics of the species.

Dr. Nguyen Truong Son, head of the Vietnamese research team, said that formally, the species is completely different from all bat species recorded in Vietnam with the recognizable feature of very large, long ears (the average length of 39 millimeters), and very long ear appendage (18 millimeters). However, its size is smaller than that of previously recorded Plecotus species worldwide, with an average forearm length of 37.5 millimeters, and skull length of 15.88 millimeters on average.

The study results also show that the classification of some species of the genus Plecotus recognized by previous studies is questionable and needs to be revised. Although rare, the long-eared Plecotus bat is likely to be widely distributed in the high altitudes of the Himalayas in southern China and northern regions of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The species' first discovery in Southeast Asia reflects the importance of the high mountain regions of North Vietnam, one of the biodiversity "hotspots" of the Indo-Burma region.

Translated by Phuong Huyen
Link to Vietnamese version

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