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Assembleia de morcegos em uma area de elevada altitude na Floresta Atlantica do sudeste do Brasil.



Although most of Brazilian landscapes lie below 600 m above sea level (Ab'Saber, 1977), the Atlantic Forest, one of the most threatened biomes in the country, extends from the sea level up to 1600 m, mainly in Southern and Southeastern Brazil (Tabarelli et al., 2010). This biome has one of the richest mammal faunas in the world, estimated in 298 species, with bats responding for about 40% of the species (Paglia et al., 2012). Despite such species richness, knowledge about the bat fauna distribution in Brazil is heterogeneous: there are species records for only 40% of the Brazilian territory and less than 10% of the country can be considered satisfactorily sampled (Bernard et al., 2011). The Atlantic Forest is the best sampled biome, with records in almost 80% of its extension. Nevertheless, bat species distribution there is uneven, and only few studies were done above 1000 m (Dias and Peracchi, 2008; Modesto et al., 2008; Nobre et al., 2009).

Minas Gerais holds the largest remaining area of Atlantic Forest in Brazil (SOS Mata Atlantica/INPE, 2010) and presents a high bat-species richness (80 species; Tavares et al., 2010; Gregorin et al., 2011; Gregorin and Loureiro, 2011). However, despite the fact that 10% of the original Atlantic Forest coverage in Minas Gerais lies above 1000 m (SOS Mata Atlantica/ INPE, 2010), bat fauna at these elevations has been poorly sampled (Glass and Encarnacao, 1982; Falcao et al., 2003; Nobre et al., 2009). Studies in such elevated areas, thus, can help us to fulfill distributional gaps, and support a better understanding on how bats use higher elevation environments (such as campo rupestre, campos de altitude and cloud forests). In addition, it may be useful to better identify and characterize key areas for the conservation of this biome, which is highly fragmented and under strong anthropic pressure (e.g. Riberio et al., 2009; Tabarelli et al., 2010).

Some key areas for biodiversity conservation in Minas Gerais have already been identified and few of them overlap exactly with areas of Atlantic Forest above 1000 m (Heringer and Montenegro, 2000). One of those areas is the Chapada do Abanador, in southern Minas Gerais, a rich mosaic of semideciduous montane forest, cloud forest and campos de altitude (Rodrigues and Carvalho, 2001; Oliveira-Filho et al., 2004). Chapada do Abanador has a very irregular landscape with altitudes between 1000 and 1580 m, with high plant diversity along the springs of Rio Capivari, a tributary of Rio Grande (Oliveira-Filho et al., 2004; Drummond et al., 2005).

With the aim to characterize and compare the bat fauna associated with highland areas of the Atlantic Forest of southern Minas Gerais, we document species richness and species composition, as well as structure of bat assemblages in cloud forest, montane forest and campo de altitude at Chapada do Abanador, a priority area for biodiversity conservation in the state.


Study area

Chapada do Abanador (21[grados]35'S; 46[grados]33'W) is located between the municipalities of Minduri and Carrancas, southern Minas Gerais, Brazil (Fig. 1). The annual average precipitation and temperature vary between 1536-1605 mm and 14.8-18.6[grados]C, respectively (Pereira et al., 2007). The vegetation in Chapada do Abanador consists, mainly, of campos de altitude and campos rupestres (Safford, 1999; Vasconcelos, 2011) with large extensions of grasslands and eventually some shrubby species, intersected by rock outcrops. Cloud forests are present on humid areas in the campo de altitude. The montane forest covers a very steeply landscape, from 1000 to 1500 m, and cloud forests are above that height, imbibed in a matrix of campos de altitude.


Bat sampling

Bats were sampled in the montane forest, cloud forest and campo de altitude (Fig. 1; Table 1). At each environment, two sites were sampled, and all of them were between 1345 and 1549 m. The total sampled area was about 760 ha and distances between sites ranged from 0.11 to 2.26 km. The shortest distance was between montane forest sites due to the steep inclination of the terrain and little availability of places for sampling with mist nets. Forty-two nights of sampling were carried out between July 2009 and April 2010, with all the 6 sites visited 7 times. Three other additional sites were sampled only once due to logistics. Ten mist nets (12 x 2.5 m, or 30 [m.sup.2]) were open from dusk to dawn (~12 hours/night) and checked every 30 minutes. Sampling effort was calculated in [m.sup.2]h (Straube and Bianconi, 2002) and capture success was obtained by dividing captures per total sampling effort. Individuals were marked with a metallic ball-chain necklace numbered with colored plastic rings (Esberard and Daemon, 1999). Three individuals of each species were collected, and vouchers deposited at the Mammal Collection of the Universidade Federal de Lavras (CMUFLA). Taxonomy used herein is in accordance to Simmons (2005).

Data analysis

Species accumulation curves for each habitat and for the entire area were plotted (Gotelli and Colwell, 2001). These curves, together with parametric and non-parametric models, may be used to estimate the number of species in an area (Colwell, 2004). Species estimator Jackknife 1 was employed to estimate species richness, based on 1000 randomizations, without replacing the sample sequences (EstimateS, version 8.0; Colwell, 2004). A Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS) analysis based on species abundance was used to verify differences in structure and composition of bat assemblages among habitats, applying Bray-Curtis index as a measure of similarity. An analysis of similarity (ANOSIM; Clarke, 1993) was used to compare the groups created by the NDMS. The analyses were performed using the software PRIMER, version 5.0 (Clarke and Gorley, 2001).

To characterize bat assemblages, species were categorized based on their major diet item, i.e., carnivores, frugivores, hematophagous, insectivores and nectarivores (Gardner, 1977; Kalko et al., 1996). Structuring and trophic composition of bats were used to compare the distribution of feeding habits in the studied habitats.


Richness and abundance patterns

Sampling effort for each habitat was 51 000 [m.sup.2]h, totaling 153 000 [m.sup.2]h for the study area. Capture success was 0.001 ind./[m.sup.2]h, with 137 individuals from 12 species of Phyllostomidae and Vespertilionidae. The former family was dominant with 87% of the captures and 83% of the recorded species (Table 2).

The most abundant species was Desmodus rotundus (35 individuals; 25.5% of captures), followed by Carollia perspicillata (26; 19%) and Anoura geoffroyi (22; 16.1%). Pygoderma bilabiatum, Vampyressa pusilla and Myotis nigricans were rare and contributed with 2.9% of the captures (Table 2).

Species accumulation curves reached values close to the asymptote for campo de altitude and cloud forest, suggesting that their bat fauna was almost entirely captured and few species would be added with an increase in the mist-netting sampling effort. The accumulation curve for montane forest did not reach the asymptote (Fig. 2). The species richness estimator suggested a total of 14 bat species in Chapada do Abanador, indicating that samplings recorded approximately 86% of the local bat fauna: 77% of the species expected for the montane forest (estimated total species: 13), 82% for the cloud forests (estimated total species: 11), and 80% for the campo de altitude (estimated total species: 10).

Similarities among habitats

Out of the 12 recorded species, 10 were found in the montane forest, nine in the cloud forests and eight in the campo de altitude, with four species occurring in only one of the habitats (Table 2): Chrotopterus auritus and V. pusilla exclusively in the montane forest, P. bilabiatum in the cloud forests, and H. velatus in the campo de altitude.

The NDMS analysis did not indicate a clear separation among habitats (Fig. 3), although bat assemblages showed significant differences between the montane forest (MF) and the campo de altitude (CA), and between the cloud forest (CF) and the campo de altitude. However, the bat abundance explained only 14% and 19% of the observed differences (ANOSIM RMF-CF = -0.039, P = 0.74; RMF-CA = 0.14, P = 0.01; RCF-CA = 0.19, P = 0.01). The same occurred in the analysis of composition among assemblages, with bat incidence explaining only 13% and 19% of the observed differences (ANOSIM RMF-CF = -0.045, P = 0.79; RMF-CA = 0.13, P = 0.01; RCF-CA = 0.19, P = 0.01).



Comparisons of feeding habits indicated higher abundance of frugivores (> 50%) in the forest dominated habitats (Fig. 4, top). In the campo de altitude, there was a higher abundance of hematophagous bats (36%), followed by insectivores (26%) and nectarivores (22%). Considering species richness (Fig. 4, bottom), guilds were similarly distributed among the different habitats, except for carnivores, which were only found in the montane forest.


With 12 bat species recorded, Chapada do Abanador presented an impoverished, simply-structured bat assemblage, including both widespread generalist consumers (e.g., C. perspicillata and Artibeus lituratus) and specialized nectarivores (Anoura caudifer and A. geoffroyi) and insectivores (H. velatus). Such reduced number of species and simplified community structure were expected, considering that samplings took place between 1345 and 1549 m. In fact, our results regarding species richness are similar to those found in other studies at high altitudes in southern Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states (Glass and Encarnacao, 1982; Falcao et al., 2003; Modesto et al., 2008; Nobre et al., 2009), in which a lower richness is reported in comparison with other Atlantic Forest sites collecting below 1000 m in the mountainous portions of Southeastern Brazil. At those lower altitudes, samplings recorded between 16 and 40 bat species (Dias et al., 2002; Esberard, 2003; Moratelli and Peracchi, 2007). The capture success in Chapada do Abanador (0.001 ind./[m.sup.2]h) was also reduced when compared to studies in lower altitudes in the Atlantic Forest (generally 0.02 ind./[m.sup.2]h; e.g. Faria, 2006; Moratelli and Peracchi, 2007), but it is closer to values obtained at Atlantic Forest sites in southern Brazil (0.004 ind./[m.sup.2]h; Bianconi et al., 2004), and in other high-altitude sites in the region, such as in Serra do Desengano, in Rio de Janeiro (0.006 ind./[m.sup.2]h; Modesto et al., 2008), and in other high-altitude sites in South America, such as in Tolina, Colombia (0.001 ind./[m.sup.2]h; Bejarano-Bonilla et al., 2007), and in the Andean portions of Venezuela (Soriano et al., 1999; Soriano et al., 2002). Therefore, bat assemblage in Chapada do Abanador fits a pattern in which the higher the elevations is, the lower the bat species richness and capture success. The observed pattern may be explained by direct thermoregulation and indirect factors (e.g., food resources; Soriano et al., 2002; McCain, 2007). In fact, those regions are colder when compared to lower tropical regions, suggesting that temperature is likely to be a limiting factor for many Phyllostomidae, which is a mostly tropical group regarding thermoregulation needs (MacNab, 1969; Graham, 1983; Patterson et al., 1996; Soriano et al., 2002). Furthermore, lower temperatures may influence food availability, since insect abundance, nectar and fruit productions, and small vertebrate abundance, are predictably lower in colder regions (Janzen et al., 1976; Fauth et al., 1989; Loiselle and Blake, 1991). Such hypothesis remains to be tested at Chapada do Abanador.

Considering that species richness estimation were based solely on mist netting, the addition of complementary techniques, such as roost search (Simmons and Voss, 1998) and, especially, the recording of echolocation calls, may contribute to add more species, mostly aerial insectivores that forage far from net range and, therefore, are underestimated in inventories that are based solely on mist-net capture (Kalko et al., 1996; Bernard et al., 2011). Unpublished studies conducted in the same region at a lower elevation (ca. 900 m), with a lower capture effort (16 888 [m.sup.2]h) and which roost searching was implemented besides mist netting, recorded 14 bat species, five of them complementary to the current study: Eptesicus furinalis (d'Orbigny, 1847), Eptesicus brasiliensis (Desmarest, 1819), Eumops auripendulus (Shaw, 1800), Platyrrhinus lineatus (E. Geoffroy, 1810) and Micronycteris megalotis (Gray, 1842). Thus, at least 17 bat species are known to occur in Chapada do Abanador.

Richness and number of recorded individuals were similar among the three habitats in Chapada do Abanador, and most species were captured in all habitats. However, species composition and assemblage structure differed between the campo de altitude and the forested areas, indicating that some bats might recognize them as distinct foraging habitats. The high mobility displayed by the majority of bats (Clarke et al., 1993; Robinson and Stebbings, 1997; Bernard and Fenton, 2003), associated to the matrix composed by campos de altitude in Chapada do Abanador, with shrubs and sparse trees, as well as the fairly short distances between the forested areas, may favor the use of the various habitats by bats. Among the shrubs and grasses present in campo de altitude, there are some species whose fruits may be consumed by bats, including Byrsonima spp., Myrcia spp., and other species in the Cactaceae and Orchidaceae families present in rocky outcrops. Moreover, the low spatial complexity of the campo de altitude may favor the search for food by the aerial insectivore H. velatus. This and other species of aerial insectivores tend to avoid areas with high spatial complexity, where flight can be difficult due to the abundance of obstacles (Brigham et al., 1997; Grindal and Brigham, 1998).

This study contributes to the characterization of the bat fauna in campos de altitude and cloud forests of southern Minas Gerais, two of the rarest and poorest sampled environments of the Atlantic Forest. Moreover, our inventory included systematic samplings above 1300 m, which are rare in Brazil. Although a simplified bat community was documented at Chapada do Abanador, the three studied habitats showed an apparently well adapted fauna, including frugivorous, nectarivorous and insectivorous bats within forested habitats surrounded by a grassland matrix. Bats play a fundamental role in the reestablishment and maintenance of natural landscapes due to the ecosystem services they provide (Fleming and Sosa, 1994; Patterson et al., 2003; Kunz et al., 2011). The ecological role that the species we recorded play in those high elevation landscapes remains unknown and should be addressed by proper ecological studies. Chapada do Abanador, a priority area for biodiversity conservation in Minas Gerais (Drummond et al., 2005) is an ideal site for such studies.

Recibido 25 marzo 2013. Aceptado 12 junio 2013. Editor asociado: D Flores


We thank Hugo Mantilla-Meluk, Maria Leonor Sandoval, Fernando A. Silveira, Clever G. C. Pinto, Daniele B. C. Puida and Tito V. Sanchez for valuable suggestions on the draft and help on statistical analysis, and to Aloysio S. Moura and several undergraduate students for help during the fieldwork. We would like to kindly thank Edgar Cortez for permission to work in his particular area and for all assistance during fieldwork. This project had financial support from FAPEMIG and CNPq.


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Ligiane M. Moras (1), Enrico Bernard (2), and Renato Gregorin (3)

(1) Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Cx. Postal 486, CEP 31270-901 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil [correspondence:].

(2) Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Rua Nelson Chaves s/n Cidade Universitaria, CEP 50670-420 Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil.

(3) Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Cx. Postal 3037, CEP 37200-000 Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brasil.
Table 1
Sites sampled for bats between July 2009 and April 2010 in
three different habitats at Chapada do Abanador, state of
Minas Gerais, Brazil. Abbreviations: CA, campo de altitude;
CF, cloud forest; MF, montane forest.

Habitat   Site   Area   Altitude      Coordinates
                 (ha)     (m)

CF         1      37      1501     21[grados]35'36"S/
           2      34      1530     21[grados]35'36"S/
CA         3     387      1540     21[grados]35'22"S/
           4     387      1549     21[grados]35'39"S/
MF         5     300      1345     21[grados]35'48"S/
           6     300      1425     21[grados]35'46"S/

Table 2
Bat species composition, abundance, relative frequency (%), habitat
and diet at Chapada do Abanador, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil,
sampled between July 2009 and April 2010. Abbreviations: Habitats
= MF, montane forest; CF, cloud forest; CA, campo de altitude.
Guilds = C, carnivores; F, frugivores; H, hematophagous; I,
insectivores; N, nectarivores.

Family                           Abundance per  Relative    Guild
                                   habitat      frequency

Species                          MF   CF   CA

  Anoura caudifer (E.            2    3    2       5.1        N
    Geoffroy 1818)
  Anoura geoffroyi Gray, 1838    2    9    11     16.1        N
  Artibeus fimbriatus Gray,      4    3    1       5.8        F
  Artibeus lituratus (Olfers,    3    3    1       5.1        F
  Carollia perspicillata         10   11   5       19         F
    (Linnaeus, 1758)
  Chrotopterus auritus           5    0    0       3.6        C
    (Peters, 1856)
  Desmodus rotundus (E.          5    9    21     25.5        H
    Geoffroy, 1810)
  Pygoderma bilabiatum           0    1    0       0.7        F
    (Wagner, 1843)
  Sturnira lilium                1    5    2       5.8        F
    (E. Geoffroy, 1810)
  Vampyressa pusilla             1    0    0       0.7        F
    (Wagner, 1843)
  Histiotus velatus              0    0    15     10.9        I
    (I. Geoffroy, 1824)
  Myotis nigricans (Schinz,      1    1    0       1.5        I
Total                            34   45   58

Fig. 4. Proportion of feeding
habit among bats in montane forest,
cloud forests and campo de altitude
at Chapada do Abanador, state of
Minas Gerais, Brazil, considering
abundance data (top) and species
richness (bottom).


               Montane   Cloud    Campo de
               forest    forest   altitude

Nectarivores   12        27       22
Frugivores     56        51       16
Carnivores     15
Hematophages   15        20       36
Insectivores   3         2        26

               Montane   Cloud    Campo de
               forest    forest   altitude

Nectarivores   20        22       25
Frugivores     50        56       50
Carnivores     10
Hematophages   10        11       13
Insectivores   10        11       13

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Moras, Ligiane M.; Bernard, Enrico; Gregorin, Renato
Publication:Mastozoologia Neotropical
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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