Richard D. Stevens and Sergio Estrada-Villegas
The study of structure of phyllostomid bat communities has a rich history that parallels the history of community ecology. Classical approaches focused on deterministic structure resulting from biotic interactions or environmental heterogeneity. More recently, the mechanistic basis of community structure has been distilled into four higher-level fundamental processes: selection, speciation, drift and dispersal. Herein we summarize a vast literature of research on determinants of phyllostomid community structure and apply this new theoretical framework to improve our understanding phyllostomid community structure. We categorized each of 232 studies identified in the literature as focusing on phyllostomid communities as to which of these four processes was addressed. The vast majority of studies have focused on the process of selection, in particular to responses to anthropogenic habitat modification or other environmental characteristics such as food availably, elevation, latitude and seasonality. The paucity of studies focusing on drift, speciation and dispersal is striking. We provide a roadmap for future investigations that bridges the gap between a focus on selection and the other three higher-level processes. Focus on selection has not generated a unified understanding as to the selective forces that control the structure of phyllostomid bat communities, especially in the forces imposed by fragmentation versus those imposed by land-use change. Speciation rates need to be integrated in phyllostomid community structure in order to understand regional differences in species richness, abundances and trait distribution. We advocate for long-term studies to distinguish effects of drift from other forms of stochasticity, and a better grasp of dispersal is needed to determine how it homogenizes beta diversity but also how it interacts with other higher level factors.