Resource partitioning by insectivorous bats in Jamaica

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Abstract

In this investigation, we use variation in wing morphology, echolocation behaviour, patterns of habitat use and molecular diet analysis to demonstrate that six species of sympatric insectivorous bats in Jamaica show significant differences that could explain resource partitioning among the species. High-intensity echolocating species that used shorter, broadband signals and had shorter, broader wings (Pteronotus macleayii, Pteronotus quadridens, Mormoops blainvillii) foraged most in edge habitats, but differed in timing of peak activity. P. macleayii and M. blainvillii differed in diet, but low sample size precluded diet analysis for P. quadridens. High-intensity echolocating species that used longer, more narrowband signals and had longer, narrower wings (Molossus molossus, Tadarida brasiliensis) foraged most in open areas and differed in diet from the other species. Two disparate species were most active in clutter (dense vegetation). Pteronotus parnellii used high-duty-cycle echolocation apparently specialized for detecting fluttering targets in clutter. Macrotus waterhousii used low-intensity, broadband echolocation calls and presumably uses prey-generated sounds when foraging. These two species also differed in diet. Our data show that differences in morphology and echolocation behaviour coincide with differences in habitat use and diet, resulting in minimal overlap in resource use among species.

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