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Seasonal variation in prey abundance influences habitat use by greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) in a temperate deciduous forest

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The hypothesis that patterns of habitat selection of greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Schreber, 1774)) vary across seasons in a temperate deciduous forest was investigated. Variables associated with potentially important ecological factors for greater horseshoe bats (physical structure of shrub stratum, crown canopy, insect availability, lunar phase, and weather) were collected for different seasons, and 75 sampling sites were established in the Luotong Mountain Nature Reserve in northeast China. Insect abundance was highest in late summer and lowest in late autumn. Poisson generalized linear models showed that the activity of greater horseshoe bats was positively related to the height and density of shrub stratum in late summer, whereas the activity of greater horseshoe bats was associated with insect abundance in early and late autumn. During periods of intermediate prey abundance (early summer), the height and density of shrub stratum, as well as insect abundance, influenced the activity of greater horseshoe bats. Shrub stratum may provide shelter against predation for foraging greater horseshoe bats. These results support our prediction that there was a trade-off between importance of food and cover among seasons for foraging bats. These findings are useful for the conservation and management of greater horseshoe bats.

Nous vérifions l’hypothèse selon laquelle les patrons de sélection de l’habitat chez le grand rhinolophe (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Schreber, 1774)) varient en fonction des saisons dans une forêt tempérée décidue. Nous avons mesuré les variables associées aux facteurs écologiques potentiellement importants pour les grands rhinolophes (structure physique de l’étage des buissons, couvert forestier, disponibilité des insectes, phase de la lune et conditions climatiques) pour les différentes saisons et avons établi 75 sites d’échantillonnage dans la réserve naturelle du Mont Luotong, dans le nord-est de la Chine. L’abondance des insectes est maximale en fin d’été et minimale tard en automne. Des modèles linéaires généralisés de Poisson montrent que l’activité des grands rhinolophes est directement reliée à la hauteur et à la densité de l’étage des buissons en fin d’été, alors qu’au début et à la fin de l’automne, l’activité des grands rhinolophes est associée à l’abondance des insectes. Durant les périodes d’abondance intermédiaire des proies (début de l’été), la hauteur et la densité de l’étage des buissons ainsi que l’abondance des insectes influencent l’activité des grands rhinolophes. L’étage des buissons fournit peut-être un abri contre la prédation pour les grands rhinolophes durant leur recherche de nourriture. Ces résultats appuient notre prédiction qu’il y a un compromis entre l’importance de la nourriture et celle de la couverture végétale au cours des saisons chez les chauves-souris en quête de nourriture. Ces observations sont d’intérêt pour la conservation et la gestion des grands rhinolophes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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