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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

I Bats in Anthropogenically Changed Landscapes

Urbanisation and Its Effects on Bats—A Global Meta-Analysis

Kirsten Jung and Caragh G. Threlfall

Abstract Urbanisation is viewed as the most ecologically damaging change to land use worldwide, posing significant threats to global biodiversity. However, studies from around the world suggest that the impacts of urbanisation are not always negative and can differ between geographic regions and taxa. Bats are a highly diverse group of mammals that occur worldwide, and many species persist in cities. In this chapter, we synthesise current knowledge of bats in urban environments. In addition, we use a meta-analysis approach to test if the general response of bats depends on the intensity of urbanisation. We further investigate if phylogenetic relatedness or functional ecology determines adaptability of species to urban landscapes and if determining factors for urban adaptability are consistent worldwide. Our meta-analysis revealed that, in general, habitat use of bats decreases in urban areas in comparison to natural areas. A high degree of urbanisation had a stronger negative effect on habitat use compared to an intermediate degree of urbanisation. Neither phylogenetic relatedness nor functional ecology alone explained species persistence in urban environments; however, our analysis did indicate differences in the response of bats to urban development at the family level. Bats in the families Rhinolophidae and Mormoopidae exhibited a negative association with urban development, while responses in all other families were highly heterogeneous. Furthermore, our analysis of insectivorous bats revealed that the adaptability of individual families, e.g. Emballonuridae and Vespertilionidae, to urbanisation is not consistent worldwide. These results suggest that behavioural and/or morphological traits of individual species may better determine species' adaptability to urban areas, rather than phylogenetic or functional classifications, and that driving factors for species adaptability to urban areas might be regionally divergent. We thus argue that future research should focus on behavioural and morphological traits of bats, to assess if these determine urban adaptability in this species-rich group of mammals.

 
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