Bats of Saba, Netherlands Antilles: a zoogeographic perspective

Data presented herein provide records of four species of bats new to the fauna of the Antillean island of Saba — Monophyllus plethodon, Ardops nichollsi, Tadarida brasiliensis, and Molossus molossus. Together with three species previously recorded from the island – Brachyphylla cavernarum, Artibeus jamaicensis, and Natalus stramineus – the chiropteran fauna of the island is documented to be composed of seven species. Our analysis of species/area relationships for West Indian bats provides a slope value of z = 0.177 and R2 = 0.76; therefore, the bat fauna of the West Indies has the flattest slope for this relationship of any West Indian group. This relationship is best explained by a propensity for over water dispersal by West Indian bats. We propose to unite the chiropteran faunas of the islands of Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and St. Martin by recognizing them as the Northern Antillean Faunal Area. Given the small size of Saba (12 km2) and the even smaller effective habitat for non-molossid bats (4 km2), conservation concerns are expressed for the future of the fauna and some recommendations are made for its preservation. 

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