Photos from the Field: Cortés-Delgado & Sosa. Bats use of Shade Coffee Plantations
Cortés-Delgado, N. and Sosa, V. J. (2014), Do Bats Roost and Forage in Shade Coffee Plantations? A Perspective from the Frugivorous Bat Sturnira hondurensis. Biotropica, 46: 624–632. doi: 10.1111/btp.12142
Shade coffee plantations are considered important habitats for frugivorous bats. However, it is not known if bats use this agricultural habitat for shelter, food resources, or both. This study addresses these questions using the highland yellow-shouldered bat (Sturnira hondurensis) as an example. Twenty-six adult individuals of S. hondurensis were captured, 50 percent in tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF) and 50 percent in shade coffee plantations (SCP) in Veracruz, Mexico, and each was fitted with a radio transmitter for locating roosts and feeding areas. Data were obtained from 24 of them. The fieldwork was conducted between October 2010 and October 2011 covering all seasons. Twenty-two day roosts were located in the cavities of twelve different species of tree. Roosts located in TMCF differed significantly from those in SCP, having a smaller crown area and a greater species richness and density of plants around the roost. In SCP, both the average home range and the average core use area were smaller than in TMCF, but the differences were not statistically significant. Distances travelled by bats were generally longer and more variable in the SCP; the distance between capture site and foraging site was significantly greater in SCP than in TMCF. In SCP, there were fewer understory chiropterochorous plants, which are the main item in the diet of this bat and many other sympatric species of frugivorous bats. Although S. hondurensis does use roosts and foraging sites in the SCP, it is important to note that this species and others with similar requirements primarily depend on the preservation of intact forest adjacent to modified landscapes, where roosts and fruit are constantly available in abundance. Management practices should guarantee a greater density and diverse of trees and the preservation of understory plants with fruits in the coffee plantations that allow a long-term survival of frugivorous bats populations.