Trophic guilds are useful concepts for advancing our knowledge of trophic structure of communities, dynamics of species interactions, redundancy in ecosystem services, resilience to disturbances, response to climate change, conservation strategies, etc. For insectivorous bats, current literature suggests 8 trophic-related guilds. These include 3 guilds based on the openness of foraging areas, 3 based on the style of feeding, and 2 recently proposed subguilds among gleaners. Some gleaners are “passive,” using densely cluttered vegetation in which echolocation is ineffective, and others are “actively” gleaning, using echolocation to procure prey. None of these guilds is based on the actual diets of bats. We analyzed 33 reports of diet composition representing 51 species of arthropod-feeding bats inhabiting North and Central America. We wanted to determine if the classical guild structure was concordant with the actual diets of bats and to compare guild structure in the Nearctic with that in the Neotropics. Discriminant function and principle component analyses generated 5 groups of genera based on the proportion of various arthropod taxa (mainly orders) in their diets. These groups were very different from classical guilds and showed almost no overlap among bat genera between the 2 continental regions. A similar analysis based on prey flying ability and hardness of their exoskeletons suggested 4 guilds that were more consistent with classical guild concepts, had higher rates of unambiguous guild assignment, and also showed major continental differences. Our results suggest a new arrangement of 4 guilds for arthropod-feeding bats in North and Central America that are based primarily on 2 features of their prey. New molecular techniques should allow us to build on this arrangement by significantly improving the taxonomic level of prey identification.
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Vol. 97 • No. 2