Local and landscape factors determining occurrence of phyllostomid bats in tropical secondary forests

Luisniel Daniel Avila-Cabadilla, Gerardo Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Kathryn Elizabeth Stoner, Mariana Yolotl Alvarez-Añorve, Mauricio Quesada, Carlos Alonso Portillo-Quintero

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71 Scopus citations


Neotropical forests are being increasingly replaced by a mosaic of patches of different successional stages, agricultural fields and pasture lands. Consequently, the identification of factors shaping the performance of taxa in anthropogenic landscapes is gaining importance, especially for taxa playing critical roles in ecosystem functioning. As phyllostomid bats provide important ecological services through seed dispersal, pollination and control of animal populations, in this study we assessed the relationships between phyllostomid occurrence and the variation in local and landscape level habitat attributes caused by disturbance. We mist-netted phyllostomids in 12 sites representing 4 successional stages of a tropical dry forest (initial, early, intermediate and late). We also quantitatively characterized the habitat attributes at the local (vegetation structure complexity) and the landscape level (forest cover, area and diversity of patches). Two focal scales were considered for landscape characterization: 500 and 1000 m. During 142 sampling nights, we captured 606 individuals representing 15 species and 4 broad guilds. Variation in phyllostomid assemblages, ensembles and populations was associated with variation in local and landscape habitat attributes, and this association was scale-dependent. Specifically, we found a marked guild-specific response, where the abundance of nectarivores tended to be negatively associated with the mean area of dry forest patches, while the abundance of frugivores was positively associated with the percentage of riparian forest. These results are explained by the prevalence of chiropterophilic species in the dry forest and of chiropterochorous species in the riparian forest. Our results indicate that different vegetation classes, as well as a multi-spatial scale approach must be considered for evaluating bat response to variation in landscape attributes. Moreover, for the long-term conservation of phyllostomids in anthropogenic landscapes, we must realize that the management of the habitat at the landscape level is as important as the conservation of particular forest fragments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35228
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 18 2012


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