Priorities and gaps in Mediterranean bat research evidence: a systematic review for the early twenty-first century.
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Department of Agriculture, Food and Forest Sciences (SAAF), University of Palermo, Italy
Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies (STEBICEF), University of Palermo, Italy
ISEM, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, Montpellier, France
Online publication date: 2022-07-11
Publication date: 2022-07-11
Bat conservation is one of the top global concerns for research today; however, conservation efforts may still be limited and impotent due to inadequacy and scarcity of data. Hence, identifying research trends, threatening factors, species status, and geographical priorities is an essential tool for future conservation, protection and prioritization. Here we conduct a comprehensive systematic review to identify current research priorities, trends, general patterns and gaps regarding Mediterranean bat researches. A total of 97 studies were found in the years spanning between 2000 and 2021. There were 18 studies with sufficient data for qualitative statistical to analysis the impact of different habitat and land managements on bat activity and species richness. A yearly average of 4.6 articles were published, with a slight increase post-2010. Out of 61 identified species, 21% of species are threatened. Approximately, 65 % of studies were conducted in the Mediterranean European region, primarily in Spain (29 %), Italy (15.5 %), and Portugal (10.3 %), largely focusing on forest habitats (38%). We found that Mediterranean bat species received uneven research attention, with only 15% of research allocated to threatened bats. Around half of the studies focused on the following bat species; Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Pipistrellus kuhlii, Miniopterus schreibersii, Rhinolophus hipposideros, Pipistrellus pygmaeus, Myotis myotis, and Rhinolophus ferrumequinum. Our statistical analysis revealed that riparian areas had higher bat activity than forest and agriculture areas. Bat population responded positively to forest management and organic agriculture practices. To reduce future research misalignment between current local research status and future global conservation priorities, we strongly advocate for urgent and additional collaborative efforts to target under-researched species and areas. Finally, our review will hopefully provide a general overview and an objective synthesis on the current status of bats in the Mediterranean and serve as a baseline for further effective research.