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DIVERSITY OF PHYLLOSTOMIDAE BATS ALONG AN ELEVATIONAL GRADIENT IN ATLANTIC FOREST
Phyllostomidae bats are an important group of mammals due to their high taxonomic and ecological diversity. Thus, understanding of how these animals are affected by environmental gradients is desirable, as this can provide information about bats’ sensitivity to abiotic and biotic factors, and help to detect priority areas for conservation. In this study, we tested if the species richness of Phyllostomidae bats is affected by an elevational gradient, under the hypothesis that the species richness is negatively affected by elevation, as this group is essentially Neotropical and must be strongly affected by temperature changes. We sampled bats with mist-nets in 11 sampling sites at different elevation strata during one year at Mantiqueira chain, southeastern Brazil, in a gradient that ranged from 700 to 1800 meters above the sea level. We run a linear model testing the relationship between bat diversity and elevation. The linear model showed a significant relationship between the number of bat species and elevation (p= 6e-04), with bat total species richness being negatively affected by elevation (Β=-0.008). Our model explained approximately 75% of the data variability (R²=0.74). Our results support the hypothesis that elevation affects bats negatively, with only a small subset of species being able to explore higher elevations. As proposed, one possible explanation for this result is the relation between elevation and temperature, where higher elevations show lower temperatures. As a Neotropical group, most Phyllostomidae bat species are not tolerant to low temperatures, and so the higher species richness is found at environments at lower elevations, where the temperature is higher. Results of this study suggest that areas at lower elevations have greater importance to bat conservation, as bat communities at these areas include species present at higher elevations and others that do not tolerate these environments. Considering the context of Mantiqueira chain, where the areas at lower elevations had suffered from different anthropic impacts, the forest remnants at these elevations have even more importance, as they harbor the greater species pool of this threatened mountain chain.
Phyllostomidae bats, elevational gradient, Mantiqueira chain, Atlantic forest.
This study was partially financed by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).
Matheus Camargo Silva Mancini, Rafael de Souza Laurindo, Lucas Laboissieri Del Sarto Oliveira, Letícia Langsdorff Oliveira, Renato Gregorin