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Keywords:

  • Amazonia;
  • assemblage structure;
  • bat diversity;
  • Chiroptera;
  • terra firme ;
  • várzea ;
  • vegetation structure

Abstract

In Amazonia, the assemblages of several taxa differ significantly between upland terra firme and white-water flooded várzea forests, but little is known about the diversity and distribution of bats in these two forest types. We compare the spatio-temporal patterns of bat assemblage composition and structure in adjacent terra firme and várzea forests in the lower Purus River region of central Brazilian Amazonia. Bats were sampled using mist nets at five sites in each forest type during 40 nights (2400 net-hours). We captured 1069 bats representing 42 species and Phyllostomidae bats comprised 99.3 percent of all captures. The bat assemblages in várzea and terra firme forests were significantly different, mainly due to a marked dissimilarity in species composition and in the number of captures during high-water season. In addition, bat assemblages within forest types differed significantly between seasons for both terra firme and várzea. Frugivores dominated the bat assemblages in both forest types. Overall guild structure did not change between várzea and terra firme or between seasons, but frugivore and animalivore abundance increased significantly in várzea forest during the inundation. The difference in assemblage structure observed in the high-water season is probably caused by the annual várzea flooding, which provides an effective barrier to the persistence of many understory bats. We also hypothesize that some bat species may undertake seasonal movements between forest types in response to fruit abundance, and our results further underline the importance of floodplain habitats for the conservation of species in the Amazon.