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Feeding and social activity of insectivorous bats in a complex landscape: The importance of gallery forests and karst areas

Dias-Silva, Leonardo, Duarte, Gabriela Teixeira, Alves, Renata, Pereira, Maria João Ramos, Paglia, Adriano
Mammalian biology = 2018 v.88 pp. 52-63
Chiroptera, acoustics, biodiversity, ecological function, ecotones, environmental factors, environmental law, foraging, forests, habitat preferences, habitats, insectivores, insects, karsts, landscapes, mining, monitoring, roosting behavior, temperature, Brazil
Worldwide, increasing human activity, such as agriculture and mining, and decreased landscape complexity, are negatively affecting numerous mammal species. For example, bat communities are becoming threatened in many locations mostly due to the loss of their preferred roosting and foraging habitats. Brazilian landscapes and their associated bat communities are no exception, with the situation being further exacerbated by recently adopted permissive environmental laws that have resulted in reduced biodiversity protection and conservation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand how landscape and environmental variables relate to bat activities in Brazil in order to support efforts for their conservation. We used acoustic monitoring data to investigate differences in foraging and social activity of insectivorous bats among four habitat types in a heterogeneous landscape in the Cerrado-Atlantic forest ecotone in southeastern Brazil. We also sampled insect availability and measured temperature at the same sites. Our results showed increased social activity and a greater number of species emitting social calls in karst, and increased feeding activity with a greater number of species emitting feeding buzzes in gallery forest. We also found a positive influence of both temperature and insect abundance on foraging and social activity. Our study provides new insights regarding habitat use by bats in a heterogeneous landscape, and demonstrates the importance of preserving different habitats in heterogeneous landscapes for the conservation of bat species and the ecological functions they perform.