Responses of tropical bats to habitat fragmentation, logging, and deforestation

TitleResponses of tropical bats to habitat fragmentation, logging, and deforestation
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMeyer, CF, Struebig, MJ, Willig, MR
EditorVoigt, C, Kingston, T
Book TitleBats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World
ChapterPart 1
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Accession NumberLUQ.1271

Land-use change is a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis and a particularly serious threat to tropical biodiversity. Throughout the tropics, the staggering pace of deforestation, logging, and conversion of forested habitat to other land uses has created highly fragmented landscapes that are increasingly dominated by human-modified habitats and degraded forests. In this chapter, we review the responses of tropical bats to a range of land-use change scenarios, focusing on the effects of habitat fragmentation , logging , and conversion of tropical forest to various forms of agricultural production. Recent landscape-scale studies have considerably advanced our understanding of how tropical bats respond to habitat fragmentation and disturbance at the population, ensemble, and assemblage level. This research emphasizes that responses of bats are often species and ensemble specific, sensitive to spatial scale , and strongly molded by the characteristics of the prevailing landscape matrix . Nonetheless, substantial knowledge gaps exist concerning other types of response by bats. Few studies have assessed responses at the genetic , behavioral , or physiological level, with regard to disease prevalence , or the extent to which human disturbance erodes the capacity of tropical bats to provide key ecosystem services . A strong geographic bias, with Asia and, most notably, Africa, being strongly understudied, precludes a comprehensive understanding of the effects of fragmentation and disturbance on tropical bats. We strongly encourage increased research in the Paleotropics and emphasize the need for long-term studies , approaches designed to integrate multiple scales, and answering questions that are key to conserving tropical bats in an era of environmental change and dominance of modified habitats (i.e., the Anthropocene).