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Diversity 2018, 10(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10020041

Effects of Habitat Structure, Plant Cover, and Successional Stage on the Bat Assemblage of a Tropical Dry Forest at Different Spatial Scales

1
Departamento de Biologia Geral, Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Montes Claros 39401-089, Minas Gerais, Brazil
2
Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte 30161-970, Minas Gerais, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 March 2018 / Revised: 19 May 2018 / Accepted: 21 May 2018 / Published: 30 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity and Conservation of Bats)
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Abstract

Bats play a fundamental role in ecosystem functioning since they are responsible for several ecological services such as seed dispersal and pollination. Therefore, assessing the effects of habitat structure at different scales on the bat assemblage is extremely important for supporting conservation strategies. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of habitat structure at multiple spatial scales on the bat assemblages and their variation along a gradient of secondary succession in a Brazilian tropical dry forest. Our results suggest that bat abundance is higher in areas close to mature forests, which shows the important role of those habitats as refuges for the regional bat fauna (in a fragmented landscape) and for the maintenance of ecosystem services provided by this group in tropical dry forests in a landscape context. In addition, bat abundance was lower in protected areas whose surroundings were better preserved (greater forest extension). This unexpected finding could result from an altered behavior in areas under a strong influence of a fruit crop matrix. Finally, we showed that the effects of the surroundings depend on the successional stage of the area under analysis. Late forests are more susceptible to variations in the forest cover in their surroundings, which show the higher fragility of these environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: Brazil; Chiroptera; late forests; secondary succession; natural regeneration Brazil; Chiroptera; late forests; secondary succession; natural regeneration
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Falcão, L.A.D.; Espírito-Santo, M.M.; Fernandes, G.W.; Paglia, A.P. Effects of Habitat Structure, Plant Cover, and Successional Stage on the Bat Assemblage of a Tropical Dry Forest at Different Spatial Scales. Diversity 2018, 10, 41.

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