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The role of climate, water and biotic interactions in shaping biodiversity patterns in arid environments across spatial scales

The role of climate, water and biotic interactions in shaping biodiversity patterns in arid environments across spatial scales
The role of climate, water and biotic interactions in shaping biodiversity patterns in arid environments across spatial scales
Aim – Desert ecosystems, with their harsh environmental conditions, hold the key to understanding the responses of biodiversity to climate change. As desert community structure is influenced by processes acting at different spatial scales, studies combining multiple scales are essential for understanding the conservation requirements of desert biota. We investigated the role of environmental variables and biotic interactions in shaping broad and fine scale patterns of diversity and distribution of bats in arid environments to understand how the expansion of non-desert species can affect the long-term conservation of desert biodiversity.
Location – Levant, Eastern Mediterranean.
Methods – We combine species distribution modelling and niche overlap statistics with a statistical model selection approach to integrate interspecific interactions into broad-scale distribution models and fine-scale analysis of ecological requirements. We focus on competition between desert bats and mesic species that recently expanded their distribution into arid environment following anthropogenic land-use changes.
Results – We show that both climate and water availability limit bat distributions and diversity across spatial scales. The broad-scale distribution of bats was determined by proximity to water and high temperatures, though the latter did not affect the distribution of mesic species. At the fine-scale, high levels of bat activity and diversity were associated with increased water availability and warmer periods. Desert species were strongly associated with warmer and drier desert types. Range and niche overlap were high among potential competitors, but coexistence was facilitated through fine-scale spatial partitioning of water resources.
Main Conclusions – Adaptations to drier and warmer conditions allow desert-obligate species to prevail in more arid environments. However this competitive advantage may disappear as anthropogenic activities encroach further into desert habitats. We conclude that reduced water availability in arid environments under future climate change projections pose a major threat to desert wildlife because it can affect survival and reproductive success and may increase competition over remaining water resources.
bats, desert biogeography, Global Change, interspecific competition, Invasive species, niche overlap, species distribution modelling, water resources
1472-4642
1440-1452
Razgour, Orly
107f4912-304a-44d5-99f8-cdf2a9ce6f14
Persey, Mike
ec8df63f-b6c7-4e62-a27a-c8a45b75d7d4
Shamir, Uzi
a1016003-44bd-4d72-a70e-8648c5aa2dd3
Korine, Carmi
69447972-174a-4d8f-8542-891564a9ea93
Razgour, Orly
107f4912-304a-44d5-99f8-cdf2a9ce6f14
Persey, Mike
ec8df63f-b6c7-4e62-a27a-c8a45b75d7d4
Shamir, Uzi
a1016003-44bd-4d72-a70e-8648c5aa2dd3
Korine, Carmi
69447972-174a-4d8f-8542-891564a9ea93

Razgour, Orly, Persey, Mike, Shamir, Uzi and Korine, Carmi (2018) The role of climate, water and biotic interactions in shaping biodiversity patterns in arid environments across spatial scales. Diversity and Distributions, 24 (10), 1440-1452. (doi:10.1111/ddi.12773).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Aim – Desert ecosystems, with their harsh environmental conditions, hold the key to understanding the responses of biodiversity to climate change. As desert community structure is influenced by processes acting at different spatial scales, studies combining multiple scales are essential for understanding the conservation requirements of desert biota. We investigated the role of environmental variables and biotic interactions in shaping broad and fine scale patterns of diversity and distribution of bats in arid environments to understand how the expansion of non-desert species can affect the long-term conservation of desert biodiversity.
Location – Levant, Eastern Mediterranean.
Methods – We combine species distribution modelling and niche overlap statistics with a statistical model selection approach to integrate interspecific interactions into broad-scale distribution models and fine-scale analysis of ecological requirements. We focus on competition between desert bats and mesic species that recently expanded their distribution into arid environment following anthropogenic land-use changes.
Results – We show that both climate and water availability limit bat distributions and diversity across spatial scales. The broad-scale distribution of bats was determined by proximity to water and high temperatures, though the latter did not affect the distribution of mesic species. At the fine-scale, high levels of bat activity and diversity were associated with increased water availability and warmer periods. Desert species were strongly associated with warmer and drier desert types. Range and niche overlap were high among potential competitors, but coexistence was facilitated through fine-scale spatial partitioning of water resources.
Main Conclusions – Adaptations to drier and warmer conditions allow desert-obligate species to prevail in more arid environments. However this competitive advantage may disappear as anthropogenic activities encroach further into desert habitats. We conclude that reduced water availability in arid environments under future climate change projections pose a major threat to desert wildlife because it can affect survival and reproductive success and may increase competition over remaining water resources.

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Razgour2018_Divers_Distrib_Manuscript_FINAL - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 14 April 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 17 May 2018
Published date: 1 October 2018
Keywords: bats, desert biogeography, Global Change, interspecific competition, Invasive species, niche overlap, species distribution modelling, water resources

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 420093
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/420093
ISSN: 1472-4642
PURE UUID: a1521e3f-02a4-4e41-aab2-3e53ecade95e
ORCID for Orly Razgour: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3186-0313

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 06:26

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Contributors

Author: Orly Razgour ORCID iD
Author: Mike Persey
Author: Uzi Shamir
Author: Carmi Korine

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