Roost selection by synanthropic bats in rural Madagascar : what makes non-traditional structures so tempting?

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Lopez-Baucells , A , Rocha , R , Andriatafika , Z , Tojosoa , T , Kemp , J , Forbes , K M & Cabeza , M 2017 , ' Roost selection by synanthropic bats in rural Madagascar : what makes non-traditional structures so tempting? ' , HYSTRIX - the Italian Journal of Mammalogy , vol. 28 , no. 1 , pp. 28-35 .

Title: Roost selection by synanthropic bats in rural Madagascar : what makes non-traditional structures so tempting?
Author: Lopez-Baucells, Adria; Rocha, Ricardo; Andriatafika, Zo; Tojosoa, Tafita; Kemp, James; Forbes, Kristian M.; Cabeza, Mar
Contributor organization: Biosciences
University of Helsinki
Department of Virology
Faculty of Medicine
Mar Cabeza-Jaimejuan / Principal Investigator
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Centre of Excellence in Metapopulation Research
Global Change and Conservation Lab
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Number of pages: 8
Belongs to series: HYSTRIX - the Italian Journal of Mammalogy
ISSN: 0394-1914
Abstract: Humanised landscapes are causing population declines and even extinctions of wildlife, whereas a limited number of species are adapting to the new niches and resources within these modified habitats. Synanthropy is widespread among many vertebrates and often causes co-habitation conflicts between humans and wildlife species. Bats often roost in anthropogenic structures, and especially in the tropics, mitigation of human-bat conflicts arising from co-habitation is hampered by a paucity of research focusing on roost preferences. We assessed roost selection by bats in villages around Ranomafana National Park, eastern Madagascar. Ten villages were surveyed, with bats occupying 21 of the 180 evaluated buildings. Of those, 17 were public buildings harbouring large molossid colonies. Although beneficial ecosystem services provided by bats are well-known, several cases of colony eviction were noted, mostly due to unwanted co-habitation. Bat preference was driven by the type of building, its height and a lack of fire use by the inhabitants. Colonies were mainly found under metal sheets within large empty chambers, whereas only isolated bats were detected in the roofs of traditional cabins. Temperatures up to 50 degrees C were recorded inside a roost, representing one of the highest temperatures recorded for an African maternity roost. Molossidae bats appear to have found a suitable alternative to their native roosts in hollow, old and tall trees in pristine forests, which are becoming rare in Madagascar. This suggests that human-bat interactions in Madagascar will likely increase alongside rural development and the loss of primary forest habitats. Shifting to modern construction methods while combining traditional techniques with proper roof sealing could prevent the establishment of bat colonies in undesired locations, whereas co-habitation conflicts could alternatively be minimised by reducing direct interaction with humans. In light of our results, we urge caution with bat evictions, and greater attention when introducing modern building practices, often supported by foreign initiatives, to poor rural communities in developing countries.
Subject: Chiroptera
East Africa
human-wildlife conflict
1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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