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Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 31–45 | Cite as

Consequences of a large-scale fragmentation experiment for Neotropical bats: disentangling the relative importance of local and landscape-scale effects

  • Ricardo RochaEmail author
  • Adrià López-Baucells
  • Fábio Z. Farneda
  • Milou Groenenberg
  • Paulo E. D. Bobrowiec
  • Mar Cabeza
  • Jorge M. Palmeirim
  • Christoph F. J. Meyer
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are widespread drivers of biodiversity decline. Understanding how habitat quality interacts with landscape context, and how they jointly affect species in human-modified landscapes, is of great importance for informing conservation and management.

Objectives

We used a whole-ecosystem manipulation experiment in the Brazilian Amazon to investigate the relative roles of local and landscape attributes in affecting bat assemblages at an interior-edge-matrix disturbance gradient.

Methods

We surveyed bats in 39 sites, comprising continuous forest (CF), fragments, forest edges and intervening secondary regrowth. For each site, we assessed vegetation structure (local-scale variable) and, for five focal scales, quantified habitat amount and four landscape configuration metrics.

Results

Smaller fragments, edges and regrowth sites had fewer species and higher levels of dominance than CF. Regardless of the landscape scale analysed, species richness and evenness were mostly related to the amount of forest cover. Vegetation structure and configurational metrics were important predictors of abundance, whereby the magnitude and direction of response to configurational metrics were scale-dependent. Responses were ensemble-specific with local-scale vegetation structure being more important for frugivorous than for gleaning animalivorous bats.

Conclusions

Our study indicates that scale-sensitive measures of landscape structure are needed for a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of fragmentation on tropical biota. Although forest fragments and regrowth habitats can be of conservation significance for tropical bats our results further emphasize that primary forest is of irreplaceable value, underlining that their conservation can only be achieved by the preservation of large expanses of pristine habitat.

Keywords

Amazon Edge effects Matrix Secondary forest Spatial scale Vegetation structure 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the many volunteers and field assistants that helped during fieldwork, Tobias Jeppsson for providing a modified version of the hier.part function for the hierarchical partitioning analysis, and the BDFFP management team for logistic support. Funding was provided by a Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) project grant (PTDC/BIA-BIC/111184/2009) to C.F.J.M. R.R. was supported by FCT (SFRH/BD/80488/2011), A.L.-B. by (FCT PD/BD/52597/2014) and CNPq (160049/2013-0), P.E.D.B. by CAPES and M.C. by Academy of Finland (grant #257686). Research was conducted under ICMBio permit (26877-2) and is publication 698 in the BDFFP technical series.

Supplementary material

10980_2016_425_MOESM1_ESM.docx (501 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 502 kb)

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments ProjectNational Institute for Amazonian Research and Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteManausBrazil
  3. 3.Metapopulation Research Centre, Faculty of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of MadeiraFunchalPortugal
  5. 5.School of Environment and Life Sciences, Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre (EERC)University of SalfordSalfordUK
  6. 6.Museu de Ciències Naturals de GranollersCatalunyaSpain
  7. 7.Department of Ecology/PPGEFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  8. 8.Department of Life SciencesImperial College LondonLondonUK

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