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Effects of habitat disruption on the activity of nectarivorous bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) in a dry tropical forest: implications for the reproductive success of the neotropical tree Ceiba grandiflora

Abstract

In the tropical dry forest of the central Pacific coast of Mexico the pollination and reproductive success of the bombacaceous tree Ceiba grandiflora was negatively affected by habitat disruption. Two of the three bat species that function as effective pollinators for this species (Glossophaga soricina and Musonycteris harrisoni) visited flowers found in trees in disturbed habitats significantly less than trees found in undisturbed habitats. A similar pattern was observed for the effective bat pollinator, Leptonycteris curasoae; however the difference was not significant. The three nectarivorous bats that functioned as effective pollinators of C. grandiflora also visited flowers to exclusively feed on pollen by biting or pulling off an anther (see Fig. S1 of Electronic Supplementary Material). The number of pollen grains deposited on stigmas from flowers in undisturbed areas was significantly greater than from flowers in disturbed habitats. The greater visitation rate and the greater number of pollen grains deposited on flowers from trees in undisturbed forest resulted in a significantly greater fruit set for trees in these areas. Our study demonstrates the negative effect that habitat disruption has on bat pollinators in tropical dry forest ecosystems and documents the negative consequences for the plants they pollinate.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for support provided by grants from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, México, to M.Q., K.E.S. and J.A.L. (31826-N), the Dirección General de Asuntos del Personal Académico at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to M.Q., K.E.S. and J.A.L. (IN213999), the Programa de Cooperación para el Desarrollo México-Costa Rica to M.Q., K.E.S., and J.A.L. (302CR075), the Vicerrectoria de Investigación at the Universidad de Costa Rica to J.A.L. (III-99-319), and the International Foundation for Science to M.Q. (D/2617–3). V.R.-G. received a scholarship from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología y DGEP de UNAM and C.P.-G. received a scholarship from the Programa de Becas para tesis de licenciatura, UNAM. This study was performed in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the M.S. degree of V.R.-G. at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. We thank A. Miranda and M. Valtierra from the Fundación Cuíxmala A.C. for logistical support and Y. Herrerías, L. Alemán-Figueroa, K.A.O. Salazar, and M.A. Munguía-Rosas for valuable assistance in the field. This manuscript was improved by the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers.

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Quesada, M., Stoner, K.E., Rosas-Guerrero, V. et al. Effects of habitat disruption on the activity of nectarivorous bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) in a dry tropical forest: implications for the reproductive success of the neotropical tree Ceiba grandiflora . Oecologia 135, 400–406 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-003-1234-3

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Keywords

  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Pollination decline
  • Phyllostomid bats
  • Plant reproductive success
  • Plant–animal interactions