The lack of knowledge regarding many aerial insectivorous bats and their relationships with forest characteristics limits conservation decision-making for tropical rainforests and for this important bat group. Therefore, our objective was to understand the effects of forest structure and composition on these bats in the Neotropical evergreen broadleaf forest of Belize, Central America. We conducted bat monitoring and quantified 51 forest characteristics at 24 locations in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve (CFR) from May–July 2014. Simple linear and backward stepwise multiple regression analyses were used to examine relationships between bat richness and activity and forest characteristics. Bat genus richness and total activity were directly related to overstory canopy depth and inversely related to ≤4 structural characteristics. Lasiurus
, and Pteronotus
spp. were affected by ≤7 forest characteristics; the responses were explained by preferences for less-cluttered, open space for flying and foraging and species-specific food and cover requirements. However, bat richness and activity were often unaffected by forest structure and composition in the CFR, suggesting that at this taxonomic level, bats may not be very sensitive to variation in forest characteristics, may not be very useful indicators of alteration, and may have some tolerance for disturbance and change.
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