INFLUENCE OF WATER PRESENCE ON BAT COMMUNITIES AND THEIR DIET
Natasha Edwin1, Rachel Blakey2.
1College of Micronesia-FSM, Kolonia, Pohnpei, FM, 2University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, AU.
Wet habitats like streams and lakes are important for bat communities as they provide a source of abundant insects and open flyways for foraging. As well as insectivorous bats, frugivorous and nectarivorous bats also eat insects, though few studies have looked at the importance of insects in their diet. It is very important for us to understand and take care of bat habitats and their food sources since bats play an important role in the restoration of tropical forests. We trapped bats with mist nets, identified them, and took and stored fecal samples. We then separated frugivorous and nectarivorous bat fecal samples from insectivorous bat fecal samples and studied the frugivorous bat fecal samples, identifying insects, fruit, and pollen within the samples. We expected a greater bat abundance and richness near water. We also expected more frugivorous and nectarivorous bats to be eating insects near water than away from water. We caught 93 individual bats during 9 nights of mist netting in 2 treatments: away from water and near water. We caught a greater proportion of insectivorous and nectarivorous bats near water but a greater proportion of frugivorous bats away from water. Thirty-five percent of frugivorous and nectarivorous bats ate insects. Near the water, 57% of frugivorous and nectarivorous bats ate insects and, away from water, only 23% of them ate insects. To confirm the trends we observed, future studies with greater sample sizes and geographic ranges should investigate the importance for bat foraging of wet habitats in the tropics.