Mixed-species groups in bats : non-random roost associations and roost selection in neotropical understory bats

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Kelm , D H , Toelch , U & Jones , M M 2021 , ' Mixed-species groups in bats : non-random roost associations and roost selection in neotropical understory bats ' , Frontiers in Zoology , vol. 18 , no. 1 , 53 . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12983-021-00437-6

Title: Mixed-species groups in bats : non-random roost associations and roost selection in neotropical understory bats
Author: Kelm, Detlev H.; Toelch, Ulf; Jones, Mirkka M.
Contributor organization: Institute of Biotechnology
Helsinki Institute of Life Science HiLIFE
Date: 2021-10-12
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Frontiers in Zoology
ISSN: 1742-9994
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12983-021-00437-6
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/335959
Abstract: Background: Mixed-species groups in animals have been shown to confer antipredator, foraging and other benefits to their members that may provide selective advantages. In most cases, however, it is unclear whether functional benefits are a principal driver of heterospecific groups, or whether groups simply result from simultaneous exploitation of common resources. Mixed-species groups that form independently of environmental conditions may, however, evidence direct benefits of species associations. Bats are among the most gregarious mammals, with sometimes thousands of individuals of various species roosting communally. Despite numerous potential functional benefits of such mixed-species roosting groups, interspecific attraction has never been shown. To explore alternative explanations for mixed-species roosting, we studied roost selection in a speciose neotropical understory bat community in lowland rainforest in Costa Rica. Long term roost data were recorded over 10 years in a total of 133 roosts comprising both natural roosts and structurally uniform artificial roosts. We modelled bat roost occupancy and abundance in each roost type and in forest and pasture habitats to quantify the effects of roost- and environmental variability. Results: We found that bat species presence in natural roosts is predictable from habitat and structural roost parameters, but that the presence and abundance of other bat species further modifies roost choice. One third of the 12 study species were found to actively associate with selected other bat species in roosts (e.g. Glossophaga commissarisi with Carollia sowelli). Other species did not engage in communal roosting, which in some cases indicates a role for negative interspecific interactions, such as roost competition. Conclusions: Mixed-species roosting may provide thermoregulatory benefits, reduce intraspecific competition and promote interspecific information transfer, and hence some heterospecific associations may be selected for in bats. Overall, our study contributes to an improved understanding of the array of factors that shape diverse tropical bat communities and drive the dynamics of heterospecific grouping in mammals more generally.
Description: Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).
Subject: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Artificial bat roosts
Communal roosting
Heterospecific animal groups
Interspecific interaction
Mixed-species groups
Roosting ecology
Species association
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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