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Roosting behavior and roost selection by Epomophorus gambianus (Pteropodidae) in a west African rural landscape

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Cunningham, AA 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pUrbanization is driving many species to inhabit modified landscapes, but our understanding of how species respond to this remains limited. Bats are particularly vulnerable due to their life‐history traits but have received little attention. We describe the roosting behavior and roost site selection, including maternity roosts, for the Gambian epauletted fruit bat (jats:italicEpomophorus gambianus</jats:italic>) within a modified forest‐savannah transition ecological zone in Ghana, West Africa. We compared characteristics of roost and non‐roost sites to test the hypotheses that roost site selection is non‐random and that maternity roost site selection differs from non‐maternity roosts. Male bats were more likely to switch roost (mean = 0.49 ± 0.23 bat days, jats:italicN</jats:italic> = 23) than females (mean = 0.33 ± 0.18 bat days, jats:italicN</jats:italic> = 7) while linear distances between roosts used by males (255 ± 254 m) were significantly longer than for females (102 ± 71 m) (jats:italict</jats:italic> = 4.50, jats:italicdf</jats:italic> = 86, jats:italicp</jats:italic> < .0001). Roost trees were more likely than non‐roost trees to be bigger, taller, occur closer to buildings, and be in relatively open and less mature plots; maintaining such trees in modified landscapes could benefit the species. Lactating bats selected a subset of roost trees but significantly, those that contained a greater number of bats, a strategy which may reflect predator avoidance, or other social co‐operation benefits. Although there was a preference for five tree species, other trees with preferred characteristics were also used. Our findings contribute to the understanding of how species utilize modified landscapes, which is important in the management of biodiversity in the Anthropocene.</jats:p>



fruit bats, Ghana, modified landscape, radiotracking, roosting ecology, tree roosts, tropical transition forest

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NERC (via Institute of Development Studies) (KN/0929)
NERC (via Institute of Zoology (IoZ)) (EE505 loZ(N575))
NERC (via University College London (UCL)) (CDAGG)