TitleResponses of aerial insectivorous bats to local and landscape-level features of coffee agroforestry systems in Western Ghats, India.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsOngole S, Sankaran M, Karanth KK
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2018

Shade coffee has shown great promise in providing crucial habitats for biodiversity outside formal protected areas. Insectivorous bats have been understudied in coffee, although they may provide pest control services. We investigated the influence of local and landscape-level features of coffee farms on aerial insectivorous bats in Chikmagalur district in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India. Bats were monitored in 20 farm sites using ultrasound detectors, and the response of bat species richness and activity to changes in tree density, proportion of built-up area in the neighborhood, and distance of farm from forest areas quantified. We examined if models built to explain the species richness and activity could also predict them in nine additional sites. We detected nine phonic types/species in the study area. The quantified predictors had no effect on assemblage-level species richness and activity of bats. Responses of edge-space and cluttered-space forager guilds mirrored those of the overall assemblage, but some species vulnerable to forest conversion like Rhinolophus beddomei were detected rarely. Best models explained up to 20% and 15% variation in assemblage-level species richness and activity respectively, and were poor predictors of both response variables. We conclude that coffee farms in our study area offer an important commuting space for insectivorous bats across a gradient of shade management. Further research should include species-specific responses to management decisions for at-risk species and quantification of ecosystem services like natural pest control to inform biodiversity conservation initiatives in the Western Ghats coffee landscapes.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID30114276
PubMed Central IDPMC6095497