Artificial Bat Roosts for Tropical Forest Restoration?

Artificial bat roost. Photo by David Douterlunge.

Artificial bat roost. Photo by David Douterlunge.

Fruit bats are very good at dispersing tree and shrub seeds into disturbed tropical ecosystems. We wanted to know how we could attract more of them into everyone’s favorite disturbed ecosystem – the abandoned cow pasture. In a paper in Biological Conservation, Ellen Holste, Zak Zahawi, and I describe an experiment in which we placed artificial bat roosts in pastures and forests in southern Costa Rica. The roosts were designed to simulate tree cavities, which many bats use for sleeping and feeding. We monitored the roost boxes for two years and found that fruit bats visited roosts in forests sooner and more often than roosts in pastures. When bats did use the roosts, seed dispersal increased dramatically, but the number of seedlings did not change. We conclude that artificial roosts in our area did not accelerate forest succession. Thanks to Juan Abel Rosales and Román Gómez for their help with this project.

About NHER

Restoration Ecologist
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