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Title: Cattle-driven forest disturbances impact ensemble composition and activity levels of insectivorous bats in Mediterranean wood pastures
Authors: Costa, Pedro
Medinas, Denis
Silva, Bruno
Mira, António
Guiomar, Nuno
Sales-Baptista, Elvira
Ferraz-de-Oliveira, Isabel
Simões, Maria Paula
Belo, Anabela
Herrera, José
Keywords: Cattle grazing
Conservation Management
Forest Loss and fragmentation
Insectivorous bats
Vegetation regeneration
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Springer - Agroforestry Systems
Citation: Costa, P. Medinas, D.; Silva, B.M.; Mira, A.; Guiomar, N.; Sales-Baptista, E.; Ferraz-de-Oliveira, I.; Simões, M.P.; Belo, A.; Herrera, J. 2018. Cattle-driven forest disturbances impact ensemble composition and activity levels of insectivorous bats in Mediterranean wood pastures. Agroforestry Systems.
Abstract: Forests can be modified by fine-scale disturbances such as those prompted by cattle grazing, but their impacts on biodiversity are far from being understood. Here, we investigate the response of insectivorous bats to cattle-driven forest disturbances, using a savanna-like Mediterranean agroforestry system, the Portuguese montado, as study system. In doing so, we compared bat ensemble composition and activity levels of bats across sites that differed in how frequently they were used by free-ranging cattle. Specifically, we selected sites regularly used by cattle (central places) and sites seldom used (grazing sites). We found strong between-site differences in both bat species composition and activity levels, with lower diversity and activity in central places compared to grazing sites. These response patterns, corresponded to marked between-site differences in tree cover, seemingly driven by cattle use given the lower levels of tree regeneration and vegetation productivity in central places compared to grazing sites. Our work therefore demonstrates that it is not only severe forest loss and fragmentation that has an impact on insectivorous bats, but also when these processes operate at fine spatial scales. We thus suggest that fine-scale forest disturbances, particularly those driven by recurrent cattle use, cannot be neglected in the conservation management of agroforestry systems. In this context, we propose some management strategies aimed at counteracting the impact of cattle-driven disturbances on biodiversity in general, and on insectivorous bats in particular.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:BIO - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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