Effects of pine forest management practices on bat functional traits in a subtropical region.
Changes in landscape environmental characteristics may influence habitat use by bat species as well as species composition and community functional structure. Landscape features may drive the functional role variability of bat species on the ecosystems. Consequently, landscapes may change the degree of functional differentiation between species. We have evaluated the effect of pine forest monoculture and their environmental characteristics on the distribution and functional attributes of bat species. We sampled bat communities in areas with high (three sites) and low (three sites) forest land use management practices including six mist-netting locations in order to sample for bats at each site. In addition, we have also measured temperature, humidity, percentage of land use coverage (managed forest, agriculture, and native forest), and percentage of canopy openness at each site. We captured 87 bats belonging to eight species representing two families: Phyllostomidae and Vespertilionidae. For the functional analysis, we used three functional attributes to describe wing morphology: wing loading, aspect ratio, and forearm length. No significant effect of any environmental variable was observed on bat species composition. However, bat species distribution was driven by the ability associated with their functional attributes to occupy the space. Moreover, forearm length was positively correlated with forest cover, canopy openness, and humidity. Species with similar wing morphology have responded in a similar way to environmental variables in the studied areas. Functional dispersion was high in the native forest. The monoculture of exotic species may increase the functional attributes related with vulnerability as described by bat wing morphology. Therefore, the native forest conversion to pine forest monoculture may increase the loss of functional attributes in the bat community.