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Morphological diversity at different spatial scales in a Neotropical bat assemblage.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Oecologia
1432-1939
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Volume
176
Issue
2
Pages
557–568
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-014-3039-y
PMID: 25159214
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The morphology of species can be used to represent their ecological position and infer potential processes determining the structure of species assemblages. This ecomorphological approach has been widely applied to the study of bat assemblages which mainly focuses on a single spatial scale and particular guilds. We extended such an ecomorphological approach to a multi-scale analysis of a Neotropical bat assemblage and its constituent guilds (aerial and gleaning insectivores, frugivores, and nectarivores) to describe their structure at different spatial scales and determine the relative importance of inter-specific competition, habitat filtering, or stochastic processes shaping such structures. We measured the occupied morphological space (size) defined by wing and skull morphology independently and the nearest-neighbour distance (structure) among species within these spaces at each spatial scale. Observed patterns were compared with random expectations derived from null models for statistical inference. When controlling for species richness and regional sampling effects in the null models, we did not find a significant effect of spatial scale in the morphological structure of the studied bat assemblage and guilds. Morphological structure followed the same patterns across scales as those expected from random drawings of sample size alone. Similar results were obtained regardless of morphological complex (wing and skull) and guilds. At both the assemblage and guild levels, bat morphological structure seems to be determined by regional, abiotic processes (e.g. habitat filtering) shaping the composition and organization of the species pool.

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