Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 589–601 | Cite as

The effects of habitat loss on bat-fruit networks

  • Rafael S. LaurindoEmail author
  • Roberto Leonan M. Novaes
  • Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni
  • Renato Gregorin
Original Paper


Habitat loss and fragmentation typically lead to species loss and, consequently, changes in the structure and stability of interaction networks. These changes may lead to important limitation of crucial ecosystems services such as seed dispersal. Here, we compared the spatial structure and species composition of bat-fruit interaction networks in continuous and fragmented forests based on the compilation of 14 datasets from the highly diverse and threatened Atlantic Forest sites in Brazil. As predicted, the number of bat-dispersed species was reduced in fragmented forests. Surprisingly, in both continuous and fragmented forests, bat-fruit networks were nested and modular and presented high complementary specialization. Bat species from genera Artibeus, Carollia, and Sturnira, as well as five plant genera (Cecropia, Ficus, Piper, Solanum, and Vismia) played a central role in both continuous and fragmented forests, revealing small effects of habitat loss on the phylogenetic identity of core species. These bats are considerably tolerant to habitat loss and may support seed dispersal of they preferred plants also in fragmented forests, which explains the similarities of the networks between continuous and fragmented forests. In addition, these key plants provide food resources continuously throughout the year, which facilitates the persistence of seed disperser bats year-round in the community. Although our results indicate that habitat loss had little influence on the structure of the bat-fruit interactions, we evidenced that fragmentation reduces the number of resources consumed and dispersed by bats, which may have negative impacts on forest dynamics and ecosystem functioning.


Atlantic rainforest Habitat disturbance Interaction networks Species roles 



RSL and RLMN are grateful to the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Brazil) for the PhD scholarships. We thank Stephen Tyndel for valuable suggestions on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1676_MOESM1_ESM.doc (460 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 460 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Biologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade e Biologia EvolutivaUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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