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. 2018 Jun 11;18(1):18.
doi: 10.1186/s12898-018-0174-z.

A Synthesis of Ecological and Evolutionary Determinants of Bat Diversity Across Spatial Scales

Free PMC article

A Synthesis of Ecological and Evolutionary Determinants of Bat Diversity Across Spatial Scales

Franciele Parreira Peixoto et al. BMC Ecol. .
Free PMC article


Background: Diversity patterns result from ecological to evolutionary processes operating at different spatial and temporal scales. Species trait variation determine the spatial scales at which organisms perceive the environment. Despite this knowledge, the coupling of all these factors to understand how diversity is structured is still deficient. Here, we review the role of ecological and evolutionary processes operating across different hierarchically spatial scales to shape diversity patterns of bats-the second largest mammal order and the only mammals with real flight capability.

Main body: We observed that flight development and its provision of increased dispersal ability influenced the diversification, life history, geographic distribution, and local interspecific interactions of bats, differently across multiple spatial scales. Niche packing combined with different flight, foraging and echolocation strategies and differential use of air space allowed the coexistence among bats as well as for an increased diversity supported by the environment. Considering distinct bat species distributions across space due to their functional characteristics, we assert that understanding such characteristics in Chiroptera improves the knowledge on ecological processes at different scales. We also point two main knowledge gaps that limit progress on the knowledge on scale-dependence of ecological and evolutionary processes in bats: a geographical bias, showing that research on bats is mainly done in the New World; and the lack of studies addressing the mesoscale (i.e. landscape and metacommunity scales).

Conclusions: We propose that it is essential to couple spatial scales and different zoogeographical regions along with their functional traits, to address bat diversity patterns and understand how they are distributed across the environment. Understanding how bats perceive space is a complex task: all bats can fly, but their perception of space varies with their biological traits.

Keywords: Chiroptera; Communities; Diversity gradients; Evolutionary history; Guild; Scale hierarchy; Spatial scales.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Air-space used by bats. Open-space species fly higher and further from ground obstacles; edge-space species fly across the vegetation edge and clearings; and, narrow-space species fly across the vegetation (Adapted from Kalko et al. [102])
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Temporal patterns of bat diversification, which occurred more intensively during the Eocene. Family and common names as well as number of species in each family are associated with each tip of the phylogenetic hypothesis tree. Gray shades represent the current geographical distribution of extant bats (see legend in right-bottom portion) (Adapted from Simmons [23] and Teeling et al. [29])

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