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Bat diversity and abundance associated with the degree of secondary succession in a tropical forest mosaic in south-eastern Mexico


Vinicio J. Sosa, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Apartado Postal 63, Xalapa, Veracruz 91000, Mexico.


Under the hypothesis that bat diversity would be lower in the early stages of secondary succession and that species affected negatively by habitat modification would be more frequent in later successional stages, we evaluated how bats use 12 vegetation stands representing four stages of secondary succession, following disturbance caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and selective logging. We compared bat richness, abundance and diversity, and found that none of these variables was different among stages or rainy seasons. However, of the 10 most common bat species, two were significantly more abundant in stands at the early stages of secondary succession, while the opposite was true for three other species. Canopy cover mainly explains these patterns. Rainy season had no effect on the abundance of the common species. The results of this study indicate that although some frugivorous species were very abundant in the younger stands, the majority of the rare species were captured in older stands. The absence of rare and habitat-specialized species from young successional stages close to primary forest suggests that, for effective bat conservation in landscapes modified by human activity, areas with original vegetation should be maintained to ensure the survivorship of sensitive-to-deforestation species.