Bat Diversity and Abundance as Indicators of Disturbance in Neotropical Rainforests

Bat Diversity and Abundance as Indicators of Disturbance in Neotropical Rainforests Abstract: Evaluating the degree of disturbance of any region to determine its relative importance for conservation purposes requires procedures that are relatively inexpensive and that yield accurate results fast. Because bats are abundant, diverse, and easy to sample, especially in the Neotropical rainforest, they fulfill several of the requirements of indicator species as identified in the literature. For 10 months we sampled bat communities in the Selva Lacandona in Chiapas, Mexico, at 15 sites representing five habitats. We also measured 10 variables representing vegetation structure and diversity at each site. With fuzzy‐set techniques we produced a gradient classification of disturbance for the 15 sites based on the vegetation data. We explored the relationship between vegetation conditions, described as the membership degrees in the construct “fuzzy forest set” (the complementary fuzzy set of “disturbance”), and four bat community variables. Bat species richness, number of rare bat species, and the bat diversity index were positively correlated with the vegetation scores, and relative abundance of the most abundant bat species was negatively correlated with vegetation scores. A high number of phyllostomine species in a community is a good indicator of low levels of disturbance. Although a single indicator group will probably not be sufficient for decision‐making processes in conservation, evaluating bat populations may be a good first step in assessing an area's conservation value, especially in rainforest regions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Conservation Biology Wiley

Bat Diversity and Abundance as Indicators of Disturbance in Neotropical Rainforests

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0888-8892
eISSN
1523-1739
DOI
10.1111/j.1523-1739.2000.99068.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract: Evaluating the degree of disturbance of any region to determine its relative importance for conservation purposes requires procedures that are relatively inexpensive and that yield accurate results fast. Because bats are abundant, diverse, and easy to sample, especially in the Neotropical rainforest, they fulfill several of the requirements of indicator species as identified in the literature. For 10 months we sampled bat communities in the Selva Lacandona in Chiapas, Mexico, at 15 sites representing five habitats. We also measured 10 variables representing vegetation structure and diversity at each site. With fuzzy‐set techniques we produced a gradient classification of disturbance for the 15 sites based on the vegetation data. We explored the relationship between vegetation conditions, described as the membership degrees in the construct “fuzzy forest set” (the complementary fuzzy set of “disturbance”), and four bat community variables. Bat species richness, number of rare bat species, and the bat diversity index were positively correlated with the vegetation scores, and relative abundance of the most abundant bat species was negatively correlated with vegetation scores. A high number of phyllostomine species in a community is a good indicator of low levels of disturbance. Although a single indicator group will probably not be sufficient for decision‐making processes in conservation, evaluating bat populations may be a good first step in assessing an area's conservation value, especially in rainforest regions.

Journal

Conservation BiologyWiley

Published: Dec 18, 2000

References

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