It is widely accepted that species diversity is contingent upon the spatial scale used to analyze patterns and processes. Recent studies using coarse sampling grains over large extents have contributed much to our understanding of factors driving global diversity patterns. This advance is largely unmatched on the level of local to landscape scales despite being critical for our understanding of functional relationships across spatial scales. In our study on West African bat assemblages we employed a spatially explicit and nested design covering local to regional scales. Specifically, we analyzed diversity patterns in two contrasting, largely undisturbed landscapes, comprising a rainforest area and a forest-savanna mosaic in Ivory Coast, West Africa. We employed additive partitioning, rarefaction, and species richness estimation to show that bat diversity increased significantly with habitat heterogeneity on the landscape scale through the effects of beta diversity. Within the extent of our study areas, habitat type rather than geographic distance explained assemblage composition across spatial scales. Null models showed structure of functional groups to be partly filtered on local scales through the effects of vegetation density while on the landscape scale both assemblages represented random draws from regional species pools. We present a mixture model that combines the effects of habitat heterogeneity and complexity on species richness along a biome transect, predicting a unimodal rather than a monotonic relationship with environmental variables related to water. The bat assemblages of our study by far exceed previous figures of species richness in Africa, and refute the notion of low species richness of Afrotropical bat assemblages, which appears to be based largely on sampling biases. Biome transitions should receive increased attention in conservation strategies aiming at the maintenance of ecological and evolutionary processes.