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Keywords:

  • Bats;
  • beta diversity;
  • biodiversity;
  • dominance;
  • evenness;
  • functional diversity;
  • latitudinal gradient;
  • macroecology;
  • richness;
  • selection probability effect

Abstract

Over the last two decades, although much has been learned regarding the multifaceted nature of biodiversity, relatively little is known regarding spatial variation in constituents other than species richness. This is particularly true along extensive environmental gradients such as latitude. Herein, we describe latitudinal gradients in the functional diversity of New World bat communities. Bat species from each of 32 communities were assigned to one of seven functional groups. Latitudinal gradients existed for the richness, diversity and scaled-dominance of functional groups. No significant patterns were observed for evenness of functional groups. Measures of functional diversity were different in magnitude and increased towards the equator at a faster rate than expected given the underlying spatial variation in species richness. Thus, latitudinal gradient in species richness alone do not cause the latitudinal gradient in functional diversity. When variation in species composition of the regional fauna of each community was incorporated into analyses, many differences between observed and simulated patterns of functional diversity were not significant. This suggests that those processes that determine the composition of regional faunas strongly influence the latitudinal gradient in functional diversity at the local level. Nonetheless, functional diversity was lower than expected across observed sites. Community-wide responses to variation in the quantity and quality of resources at the local level probably contribute to differences in functional diversity at local and regional scales and enhance beta diversity.