Echolocation and stratum preference : key trait correlates of vulnerability of insectivorous bats to tropical forest fragmentation

Núñez, SF, López-Baucells, A, Rocha, R, Farneda, FZ, Bobrowiec, PED, Palmeirim, JM and Meyer, CFJ ORCID: 2019, 'Echolocation and stratum preference : key trait correlates of vulnerability of insectivorous bats to tropical forest fragmentation' , Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7 , p. 373.

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Habitat loss and fragmentation rank high amongst the most pressing threats to biodiversity. Understanding how variation in functional traits is associated with species vulnerability in fragmented landscapes is central to the design of effective conservation strategies. Here, we used a whole-ecosystem ecological experiment in the Central Amazon to investigate which functional traits of aerial-hawking insectivorous bats best predict their sensitivity to forest fragmentation. During 2014, bats were surveyed using passive bat recorders in six continuous forest sites, eight forest fragments, eight fragment edges, and eight forest clearings. The interaction between functional traits, environmental characteristics, and species distribution was investigated using a combination of RLQ and fourth-corner analyses. Our results showed that echolocation call structure, vertical stratification, and wing aspect ratio were the strongest predictors of sensitivity to forest fragmentation. Frequency of maximum energy, body mass, and relative wing loading did not show any correlation with the environmental variables. Bat species with constant-frequency calls were associated with high vegetation density, being more susceptible to forest fragmentation than species with frequency-modulated calls. Vertical stratum preference was also correlated with vegetation structure, indicating that understory species were more sensitive to forest loss than canopy species. Finally, species with high aspect ratio wings were linked to forest edges and clearings. Our findings suggest that species functional traits determine the vulnerability of aerial-hawking insectivorous bats toward fragmentation and, similarly, environmental conditions determine if a species is likely to become locally extinct due to fragmentation. Preserving structurally complex forests will be crucial to ensure the long-term persistence of the most sensitive and vulnerable species of this bat ensemble in fragmented landscapes across the Neotropics.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Frontiers via Jisc Publications Router ** Licence for this article: **Journal IDs: eissn 2296-701X **History: published_online 11-10-2019; accepted 17-09-2019; submitted 20-02-2019; collection 2019
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
ISSN: 2296-701X
Related URLs:
Funders: Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
SWORD Depositor: Publications Router
Depositing User: Publications Router
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 11:49
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 03:00

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