Focus on Neotropical bats, especially Phyllostomidae, has provided many rich insights into contemporary biogeography of the Earth’s biota, in particular from perspectives of describing patterns and searching for mechanisms underlying broadscale gradients of biodiversity. Here we review this large body of research. We begin by reviewing more classical approaches to describe and explain secondary gradients of diversity related to area, latitude, and elevation but also review more contemporary analyses involving primary gradients related to climate and history. Indeed, phyllostomid bats exhibit arguably some of the strongest biodiversity gradients in the world. Moreover, gradients of phyllostomid diversity reflect responses to a complex tapestry of climatic conditions such as precipitation, temperature and their seasonality combined with historical drivers of diversification such as spatially variable speciation rates and tropical niche conservatism. We end by making explicit some of the methodological challenges that limit our understanding of phyllostomid biodiversity gradients as well as highlight some of the more exciting novel approaches that promise much in terms of improving our understanding of the vast complexity of biodiversity gradients of Phyllostomidae as well as the mechanistic basis to these patterns.
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