Data from: Biotic predictors complement models of bat and bird responses to climate and tree diversity in European forests
Cite this dataset
Barbaro, Luc et al. (2018). Data from: Biotic predictors complement models of bat and bird responses to climate and tree diversity in European forests [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t48p8c0
Bats and birds are key providers of ecosystem services in forests. How climate and habitat jointly shape their communities is well studied, but whether biotic predictors from other trophic levels may improve bird and bat diversity models is less known, especially across large bioclimatic gradients. Here, we achieved multi-taxa surveys in 209 mature forests replicated in six European countries from Spain to Finland, to investigate the importance of biotic predictors (i.e., the abundance or activity of defoliating insects, spiders, earthworms and wild ungulates) for bat and bird taxonomic and functional diversity. We found that 9 out of 12 bird and bat diversity metrics were best explained when biotic factors were added to models including climate and habitat variables, with a mean gain in explained variance of 38% for birds and 15% for bats. Tree functional diversity was the most important habitat predictor for birds, while bats responded more to understorey structure. The best biotic predictors for birds were spider abundance and defoliating insect activity, while only bat functional evenness responded positively to insect activity. Accounting for potential biotic interactions between bats, birds and other taxa of lower trophic levels will help to understand how environmental changes along large biogeographical gradients affect higher-level predator diversity in forest ecosystems.