Influences of scale on bat habitat relationships in a forested landscape in Nicaragua
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Scale dependence of bat habitat selection is poorly known with few studies evaluating relationships among landscape metrics such as class versus landscape, or metrics that measure composition or configuration. This knowledge can inform conservation approaches to mitigate habitat loss and fragmentation.
We evaluated scale dependence of habitat associations and scaling patterns of landscape metrics in relation to bat occurrence or capture rate in forests of southwestern Nicaragua.
We captured 1537 bats at 35 locations and measured landscape and class metrics across 10 spatial scales (100–1000 m) surrounding capture locations. We conducted univariate scaling across the 10 scales and identified scales and variables most related to bat occurrence or capture rate.
Edge and patch density, at both landscape and class levels, were the most important variables across species. Feeding guilds varied in their response to metrics. Certain landscape and configuration metrics were most influential at fine (100 m) and/or broad (1000 m) spatial scales while most class and composition metrics were influential at intermediate scales.
These results provide insight into the scale dependence of habitat associations of bat species and the influence of fine and broad scales on habitat associations. The effects of scale, examined in our study and others from fine (100 m) to broad (5 km) indicate habitat relationships for bats may be more informative at larger scales. Our results suggest there could be general differences in scale relationships for different groups of landscape metrics, which deserves further evaluation in other taxonomic groups.
KeywordsScale-dependent habitat selection Landscape metrics Landscape composition Landscape configuration Chiroptera Forest fragmentation FRAGSTATS Multi-scale habitat modeling
We thank the Bat Conservation International and the Percy Sladen Memorial Fund for financial support. Paso Pacífio provided logistic and field support. We thank landowners who provided access to their property for this work including Miguel Melendez and Miguel Soto. We thank J. Crouse for the study area map. Volunteers who helped capture, identify, and radio track bats included D. Brown, B. Burger, C. Corben, K. Day, A. Haskew, K. Livengood, A. McIntire, B. Noble, L. Piest, E. Rutherford, M. Siders, D. Sinton, T. Snow, B. Taubert, D. Taylor, S. Tuttle, and K. Williams-Guillén. The Associate Editor and 2 anonymous reviewers provided comments that greatly improved the manuscript.
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