Evidence-Based Evaluation of the Effect of Urbanisation on Bats Worldwide Using a Meta-Analysis

Within this book chapter, we were in particular interested in the general conclusions concerning the potential of bats to adjust to urban environments. We thus synthesised pre-existing data of published literature with a focus on bats in urban versus natural environments in a worldwide meta-analysis. Meta-analysis has been previously used in ecology and conservation because results can lead to evidencebased environmental policies.

Here, we investigated the general response of bats to urbanisation and tested whether this is consistent across cities differing in the intensity of urban development. In addition, we address the question of whether adaptability of species to urban landscapes correlates with phylogeny or rather functional ecology. Functional ecology of species can be linked to species traits, where traits refer to morphological, behavioural or physiological attributes of species (Violle et al. 2007). Using such functional traits can improve understanding of and help predict how species respond to environmental change (Didham et al. 1996; Flynn et al. 2009), such as increasing urbanisation. A key challenge is to develop frameworks that can predict how the environment acts as a filter by advantaging or disadvantaging species with certain traits. Urbanisation has been demonstrated to select for, or against, species with specific response traits within flora and fauna communities, including remnant grasslands (Williams et al. 2005), bat communities (Threlfall et al. 2011) and bird communities (Evans et al. 2011). To more fully understand and predict the impact of increasing urban land cover on urban bat communities, the identification and investigation of traits across a variety of studies in urban landscapes worldwide may prove useful. To do this, we investigated the response of bats to urbanisation using a functional ecology approach and further investigated if these mechanisms are consistent worldwide and thus separately analysed the compiled literature for America (North and South America combined) versus Europe, Asia and Australia. Based on previous studies in urban and other human disturbed landscapes, we expected that predominant food item (fruits, nectar and insects), foraging mode (aerial, gleaning) and foraging space (narrow, edge and open, following Schnitzler and Kalko (2001)) may impact upon a species ability to adapt to urban environments, as suggested by (e.g. Avila-Flores and Fenton 2005; Jung and Kalko 2011; Threlfall et al. 2011)

 
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