Rainho, A. (2022) Positive interactions drive bat distribution in a remote oceanic archipelago (Azores, Portugal).Diversity, 14(1), 17. DOI:10.3390/d14010017 (IF2021 3,031; Q3 Ecology)
One of the fundamental interests in ecology is understanding which factors drive species’ distribution. We aimed to understand the drivers of bat distribution and co-occurrence patterns in a remote, insular system. The two bat species known to occur in the Azores archipelago were used as a model. Echolocation calls were recorded at 414 point-locations haphazardly distributed across the archipelago. Calls were analysed and assigned to each species. Binominal generalised linear models were adjusted using different descriptors at two scales: archipelago and island. The presence of the co-occurring species was included at both scales. The results show that island isolation, habitat and climate play an essential role on the archipelago and island scales, respectively. However, the positive interaction between bat species was the most critical driver of species’ distribution at the island scale. This high co-occurrence pattern at the island scale may result from both species’ maximising foraging profit in a region where prey abundance may be highly variable. However, further research is necessary to clarify the mechanisms behind this positive interaction. Both species are threatened and lack specific management and protection measures. Maintaining this positive interaction between the two species may prove to be fundamental for their conservation.