Metapopulation genetic models consider that colonization and dispersal are distinct behaviours. However, whether colonization and dispersal indeed reflect different biological processes in nature is unclear. One possibility to test this assumption is to assess patterns of autosomal and mitochondrial genetic structure in species with strict female philopatry, such as the communally breeding Bechstein's bat. In this species, mitochondrial DNA can spread only when females establish new colonies, and autosomal DNA is transmitted among colonies only when females mate with solitary males born in foreign colonies. Investigating the genetic structure among 37 colonies, we found that autosomal genes followed an island model on a regional scale and a model of isolation by distance on a larger geographical scale. In contrast, mitochondrial genetic structure revealed no pattern of isolation by distance at a large scale but exhibited an effect of ecological barriers on a regional scale. Our results provide strong empirical evidence that colonization and dispersal do not follow the same behavioural rules in this bat, supporting the assumption of metapopulation genetic models.