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Morphological assembly mechanisms in Neotropical bat assemblages and ensembles within a landscape

Moreno, Claudia E., Arita, Héctor T., Solis, Leonor
Oecologia 2006 v.149 no.1 pp. 133-140
Phyllostomidae, habitats, landscapes, models, phylogeny, species diversity, wings
Empirical studies on bat assemblages have shown that richness is not appreciably influenced by local processes such as ecological interactions. However, most of these studies have been done in large areas that include high heterogeneity, and they analyse all bat species within such areas, and thus they may be not reflecting local but supra-community conditions. We followed an ecomorphological approach to assess how bat assemblages of species from the families Phyllostomidae and Mormoopidae, and ensembles of frugivorous bats, are assembled in local habitats within a single landscape. We measured the volume of the space defined by wing morphology and quantified the average distance between species within such a volume. Then, we related these measures to local richness. Such relationships were contrasted against relationships with random assemblages to test for statistical differences. At the ensemble level of organization, we found that the frugivorous bat morphological assembly mechanism is different from random patterns, and it corresponds to the volume-increasing model. On the other hand, bat assembly mechanisms may be ubiquitous at the assemblage level, because groups of species coexisting in a local habitat and delimited only by phylogeny include more than one ecological group with no potential to interact. Assembling processes are crucial to an understanding of species diversity in local communities, and ecomorphological analyses are very promising tools that may help in their study.