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Data from: Chiropteran metacommunity structure in the Atlantic Forest of South America

Cite this dataset

Stevens, Richard; Stuhler, John; Grimshaw, Jenna (2021). Data from: Chiropteran metacommunity structure in the Atlantic Forest of South America [Dataset]. Dryad.



Patterns of local species diversity are shaped by dispersal ability, and associated metacommunity structure. Here we set out to test the effect of dispersal ability on metacommunity structure of bats throughout the Atlantic Forest of South America considering differences among communities, functional groups and species regarding environmental, spatial and connectance-related drivers of composition.  In addition, we aimed to illuminate phylogenetic and ecological correlates such as incidence (i.e., frequency of occurrence across sites) and wing morphology of the degree to which species respond to spatial and environmental drivers.


Atlantic Forest of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.


Phyllostomid bats


Distributional data from the Atlantic Bats dataset were compiled for 39 species at 120 sites.  Variation among bat species was partitioned into pure environmental, pure space, pure connectivity, joint and unaccounted variation fractions.  Redundancy analyses or simple linear regression determined amount of variation in variation fractions accounted for by phylogeny or ecological characteristics of species.


The metacommunity of Atlantic Forest phyllostomid bats was significantly structured by environmental, space and connectivity characteristics.  Animalivore and sanguinivore species composition was significantly related only to connectivity.  Nectarivore species composition was significantly related to pure environmental and pure connectance characteristics.  Frugivores exhibited structure that was significantly related to all three kinds of characteristics (pure environmental, pure spatial and pure connectance), similar to that of the overall metacommunity.  Species-specific responses to environmental and spatial drivers were highly variable but exhibited strong affinities related to phylogeny and functional group.  Incidence of species within the metacommunity was significantly related to magnitude of the pure environmental variation partition.  As the incidence of a species increased, variation in distribution and abundance was more related to environmental characteristics.  There was no significant relationship between dispersal ability as estimated from forearm length and magnitude of the connectivity variation partition. 

Main Conclusions

Metacommunity structure of bats in the Atlantic Forest is complex and includes variation across multiple scales of ecological organization.  Moreover, structure is strongly associated with phylogenetic, functional, and distributional characteristics of species, with these in turn related to responses to spatial and environmental gradients in Atlantic Forest.


To estimate metacommunity structure we used the Atlantic Bats dataset (Muylaert et al. 2017).  The Atlantic Bats dataset is a compendium of 135 quantitative studies on bats from 205 sites; data are available as an Ecology data paper (Muylaert et al. 2017).  We selected only those communities that were represented by at least 100 individuals (Figure 1) to ensure that sites were sufficiently sampled (Stevens 2013).  We imposed the additional requirement that only taxa that occurred at 5 or more sites were included in analyses.  This reduced stochasticity due to rare species as well as facilitated species-specific analyses (see below).  Our analyses were based on a 120 site × 39 species matrix.