Density compensation in New World bat communities

Richard D. Stevens, Michael R. Willig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Understanding the role of competitive interactions in shaping the structure of communities has been one the most unrelenting challenges to ecology. Traditionally, competitive interactions were assumed to be the most important agent of deterministic structure, with overdispersed morphological patterns based on body size and trophic status as their hallmark. However, models of community organization based solely on morphology have yielded only equivocal results for many taxa. Fortunately, morphological patterns may not be the only indications of competitively induced deterministic structure. Herein, we explore the degree to which the structure of five feeding guilds (aerial insectivores, frugivores, gleaning animalivores, molossid insectivores, and nectarivores) from 15 New World bat communities reflects density compensation. Nonrandom associations between abundance and morphological distance were detected in five communities, in three feeding guilds, and with respect to four competitive scenarios. Nonetheless, patterns consistent with the hypothesis of density compensation were neither pervasive nor consistent in New World bat communities. Competitively induced community structure may exist under only narrow temporal and environmental conditions, and may not be characteristic of organization in most situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-377
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000


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