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Bat communities and deforestation in French Guiana

Canadian Journal of Zoology 74(11): 1974-1982

Bat communities and deforestation in French Guiana

The impact of deforestation on the composition and dynamics of bat communities received close attention during a 15-year survey of the bats of French Guiana. Overall, deforestation lowers species richness: 48 of the 75 bat species from primary forest, mainly mature-forest phyllostomids, were not found in large areas that had been deforested for a long time. The 27 "rare" species, each represented by fewer than 6 of 8031 captures, had been apparently virtually eliminated from deforested areas. These altered habitats had been repopulated by a few opportunistic frugivorous phyllostomid species and by species belonging to the widespread insectivorous families Vespertilionidae and Molossidae. Habitats altered by humans harbor over four times as many individual bats as primary rain forest. This rise in both frugivorous and insectivorous bat populations in areas of degraded vegetation appears linked to the abundance of bat-dispersed pioneer fruiting plant species available to phyllostomids and the multiplication of roosting sites for vespertilionids and molossids in human habitats. The species richness of local bat communities is positively influenced by the presence of forest corridors or the immediate proximity of a forest block.

Accession: 002763132

DOI: 10.1139/z96-224

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