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Frugivorous bats maintain functional habitat connectivity in agricultural landscapes but rely strongly on natural forest fragments.


ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic changes in land use threaten biodiversity and ecosystem functioning by the conversion of natural habitat into agricultural mosaic landscapes, often with drastic consequences for the associated fauna. The first step in the development of efficient conservation plans is to understand movement of animals through complex habitat mosaics. Therefore, we studied ranging behavior and habitat use in Dermanura watsoni (Phyllostomidae), a frugivorous bat species that is a valuable seed disperser in degraded ecosystems. Radio-tracking of sixteen bats showed that the animals strongly rely on natural forest. Day roosts were exclusively located within mature forest fragments. Selection ratios showed that the bats foraged selectively within the available habitat and positively selected natural forest. However, larger daily ranges were associated with higher use of degraded habitats. Home range geometry and composition of focal foraging areas indicated that wider ranging bats performed directional foraging bouts from natural to degraded forest sites traversing the matrix over distances of up to three hundred meters. This behavior demonstrates the potential of frugivorous bats to functionally connect fragmented areas by providing ecosystem services between natural and degraded sites, and highlights the need for conservation of natural habitat patches within agricultural landscapes that meet the roosting requirements of bats.

SUBMITTER: Ripperger SP 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4382216 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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