1. Semi-arid and arid landscapes (dry-lands) cover 41% of the Earth’s land surface over five continents. These areas are home to 55% of mammal species. Bats have the second highest species richness among mammals, and, although many species are adapted to arid conditions, they are particularly sensitive in these habitats and require conservation priority.
2. Information on bats in arid and semi-arid landscapes is scattered, patchy and focused on small-scale studies; therefore, we undertook a systematic review using the PRISMA protocol to identify the current knowledge status, detect knowledge gaps and propose future research priorities.
3. We analysed 346 published articles and evaluated 40 topics within five topic categories (taxa studied, methodologies used, biology, ecology and conservation). The most commonly studied topic categories were ecology and biology. However, we found a gap in the topic category conservation (including topics such as conservation status and roost conservation). Our network analysis of topics within the categories showed that most ecology papers were focused on distribution, species richness and habitat use.
4. When we analysed keywords, we found that phylogeny, taxonomy and distribution demonstrated relatively high presence. Moreover, comparison of the percentage of studies conducted in dry-lands and the percentage of land surface area covered by dry-lands in the continents revealed that dry-lands in Africa and Australia were especially under-represented. Our review shows that knowledge of bats in semi-arid and arid landscapes is biased towards new records of the distribution of species, as well as covering systematic/taxonomic and morphological aspects of bat biology.
5. We suggest that research on conservation measures and guidelines to protect the bat species found in semi-arid and arid landscapes should be prioritised, together with the sharing of knowledge with local practitioners and the development of citizen science programmes.
- habitat loss