The ecological mechanisms that sustain high species richness in Neotropical bat communities have attracted research attention for several decades. Although many ecologists have studied the feeding behavior and diets of Neotropical bats on the assumption that food is a limiting resource, other resource axes that might be important for species coexistence are often ignored. Diurnal refugia, in particular, are a crucial resource for bats, many of which exhibit conspicuous morphological or behavioral adaptations to the roost environment. Here we report and analyze information about roost occupancy based on >500 field observations of Amazonian bats. Statistical analyses of these data suggest the existence of distinct groups of species roosting (1) in foliage, (2) exposed on the trunks of standing trees, (3) in cavities in standing trees, (4) in or under fallen trees, (5) beneath undercut earth banks, and (6) in arboreal insect nests; additionally, we recognize other groups that roost (7) in animal burrows, and (8) in rocks or caves. Roosting-guild membership is hypothesized to have a filtering effect on Amazonian bat community composition because some types of roosts are absent or uncommon in certain habitats. Among other applications of our results, cross-classifying bat species by trophic and roosting guilds suggests that the often-reported deficit of gleaning animalivores in secondary vegetation by comparison with primary forest might reflect habitat differences in roost availability rather than food resources. In general, ecological and evolutionary studies of Neotropical bats would be enhanced by considering both trophic- and roosting-guild membership in future analyses, but additional fieldwork will be required to determine the roosting behavior of many data-deficient species.
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Vol. 2016 • No. 3870