Fossils reject climate change as the cause of extinction of Caribbean bats

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We combined novel radiocarbon dates of bat fossils with time-scaled ecological niche models (ENM) to study bat extinctions in the Caribbean. Radiocarbon-dated fossils show that late Quaternary losses of bat populations took place during the late Holocene (<4 €...ka) rather than late Pleistocene (>10 €...ka). All bat radiocarbon dates from Abaco (Bahamas) that represent extirpated populations are younger than 4 €...ka. We include data on six bat species, three of which are Caribbean endemics, and include nectarivores as well as insectivores. Climate-based ENMs from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present reflect overall stability in distributions, with suitable climatic habitat being present over time. In the absence of radiocarbon dates, bat extinctions had been presumed to take place during the last glacial-interglacial transition (ca. 10 €...ka). Now we see that extirpation of bats on these tropical islands is more complex than previously thought and primarily postdates the major climate changes that took place during the late Pleistocene-Holocene transition.




Soto-Centeno, J. A., & Steadman, D. W. (2015). Fossils reject climate change as the cause of extinction of Caribbean bats. Scientific Reports, 5.

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