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Patterns of foraging activity and fidelity in a Southeast Asian flying fox

Schloesing E., Chambon R., Tran A., Choden K., Ravon S., Epstein J.H., Hoem T., Furey N.M., Labadie M., Bourgarel M., De Nys H., Caron A., Cappelle J.. 2020. Movement Ecology, 8 : 13 p..

Background: Improved understanding of the foraging ecology of bats in the face of ongoing habitat loss and modification worldwide is essential to their conservation and maintaining the substantial ecosystem services they provide. It is also fundamental to assessing potential transmission risks of zoonotic pathogens in human-wildlife interfaces. We evaluated the influence of environmental and behavioral variables on the foraging patterns of Pteropus lylei (a reservoir of Nipah virus) in a heterogeneous landscape in Cambodia. Methods: We employed an approach based on animal-movement modeling, which comprised a path-segmentation method (hidden Markov model) to identify individual foraging-behavior sequences in GPS data generated by eight P. lylei. We characterized foraging localities, foraging activity, and probability of returning to a given foraging locality over consecutive nights. Generalized linear mixed models were also applied to assess the influence of several variables including proxies for energetic costs and quality of foraging areas. Results: Bats performed few foraging bouts (area-restricted searches) during a given night, mainly in residential areas, and the duration of these decreased during the night. The probability of a bat revisiting a given foraging area within 48¿h varied according to the duration previously spent there, its distance to the roost site, and the corresponding habitat type. We interpret these fine-scale patterns in relation to global habitat quality (including food-resource quality and predictability), habitat-familiarity and experience of each individual. Conclusions: Our study provides evidence that heterogeneous human-made environments may promote complex patterns of foraging-behavior and short-term re-visitation in fruit bat species that occur in such landscapes. This highlights the need for similarly detailed studies to understand the processes that maintain biodiversity in these environments and assess the potential for pathogen transmission in human-wildlife interfaces.

Thématique : Ecologie animale; Physiologie animale : nutrition; Méthodes mathématiques et statistiques

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