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THE EFFECTS OF HABITAT LOSS ON PHYSIOLOGICAL CONDITION AND STRESS LEVEL IN NEOTROPICAL FRUIT-EATING BATS
The reduction of forest amount (habitat loss) is thought to be a potential stressor for bat population in The Neotropics. Hematological measures are increasingly being used to analyze the impact of several stressors on the physiological condition of animals. Here, we measured several hematological parameters to analyze the impacts of habitat loss on the physiological condition (body condition and health status) and stress level of four species of Neotropical fruit-eating bats. We measured hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration and calculated related metrics such as the hemoglobin-hematocrit residuals (HHR) and mean cell haemoglobin concentration (MCHC), as well as the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (N/L ratio) of four common frugivores bat species (Artibeus lituratus, Artibeus planirostris, Sturnira lilium and Carollia perspicilatta) in 20 landscapes within the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest, representing a gradient from 10 to 85% of forest cover. We tested the influence of forest amount, species, sex and reproductive condition on the physiological variables. We fit GLM to each of the response variables and performed a variable selection through AICc. Except for the N/L ratio, none of the plausible models included forest amount as a significant predictor. Overall, we found that habitat loss apparently did not jeopardize the physiological condition of fruit-eating bats and that stress level apparently is not high enough to have any deleterious effect. We suggested that the increase in glucocorticoids, indirectly assessed buy the N/L ratio, is a predictive, beneficial response, that allow these bats to cope efficiently with the stressors associated with habitat loss.
Conservation physiology, Habitat loss, Habitat amount, Hematology, Stress, Atlantic forest
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP - Process 2014 / 16320-7)
Pedro Henrique Miguel, Patricia Kerches Kerches, Bernardo Brandão Niebuhr, Rafael Souza, Milton Cezar Ribeiro, Ariovaldo Pereira Cruz Neto