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Conserving the Cerrado vegetation for bats diet: where should we direct conservation efforts?

Oliveira, H. F. M1*.; Ramon, E. 2; Camargo, N. F. 2 & Martins, R. C. C 2.; Rossiter, S1. & Clare, E1.
1– Queen Mary University of London (UK)
2– University of Brasilia (Brazil)
*oliveira.hfm@gmail.com

Introduction
Cerrado is a large neotropical savannah (1.783.200 km²) considered one of the world`s biodiversity hotspots (Myers et al. 2000). It is composed of a mosaic of vegetation
types from open formations with sparse low trees to dense and forestry formations (Ratter & Bridgewater et al. 1997). It contains a rich community of plants (more than 12000
species) (Sano et al. 2008) and high rates of deforestation (Klink & Machado, 2005).
There are 251 species of mammals in the Cerrado of which 101 are bats (Paglia et al. 2012). The Phyllostomidae family comprises a high percentage of Cerrado bat species
(57) (Paglia et al. 2012). They present a high diversity of feeding habits and fruits and flowers represent one of their most important food sources (Rojas et al. 2011).
Frugivorous bats present an important role for the dynamics of tropical forests as seed dispersers and helping in the maintenance and recovery of habitats (Muscarella &
Fleming, 2007). Nectarivorous bats similarly represent key pollinators of at least 500 species of Neotropical plants (Kunz et al. 2011).
We hypothesize that:
1 – Forest formations would play a major role in the diet of frugivorous bats, while open formations would play a major role for nectarivorous species;
2 – There would be a few number of plant species playing a major role in the diet of large number of bat species and a high number of plants playing a minor role in their
diet;
Materials and methods
To account for the registers of bat frugivory and nectarivory in Cerrado, we consulted a dataset with all the records of bat frugivory in Cerrado published in scientific indexed
journals and compiled in Bredt et al. (2013). To account for the plants occurrence in different habitats of Cerrado, we used the dataset provided by Ribeiro et al. 2008 which is a
compilation of all plants of Cerrado and the habitat types that they occur.
We obtained data from 11 habitat types of the Cerrado (i.e., Brazilian savannah). Among this formations, were forests (mata de galeria, mata ciliar, mata seca, cerradão),
savannah (cerrado stricto sensu) and more open and grassy physiognomies (vereda, campo limpo, campo sujo, and campo rupestre). Additionally, we also obtained data of
Cerrado from formations that have influence from other biomes (carrasco and amazon savannahs). To test if forestry formations play a more important role in the diet of
frugivorous bats and open formations in the diet of nectarivorous bats, a Spearman correlation was made between the number of species of plants used by bats and the
average percentage cover of each plant in a vegetation formation. We excluded the carrasco and brejo due to data limitation. We constructed interaction networks from our
data and them modelled the effect of removing plant species and habitat types on the persistence of bats in the network. A cluster dendrogram was created using the Jaccard
index and average method to see which bats had similar diets and which habitats had a more similar floristic composition in terms of plant species for bats diet. All network
analysis were made using R version 3.0.3 (R Development Core Team, 2014) with the package bipartite (Dormann et al. 2008).

Figure I. Network of interaction between
frugivorous bat species and plants they eat.

Figure III. Simulation of secondary extinction of
frugivorous bat species of Cerrado based on the
extinction of the least connected plant species
first (left) and the extinction of the most
connected plant species first (right).

Figure IX. Cluster dendrogram of similarity
of habitats of Cerrado in terms of the
number of plant species of each habitat
present in the diet of frugivorous bat
species in each formation.

Figure II. Network of interaction between
nectarivorous bat species and plants they eat.

Figure IV. Simulation of secondary extinction of
nectarivorous bat species of Cerrado based on
the extinction of the least connected plant
species first (left) and the extinction of the most
connected plant species first (right).

Figure X. Cluster dendrogram of similarity of
habitats of Cerrado in terms of the number
of plant species of each habitat present in
the diet of nectarivorous bat species in each
formation.

Figure V. Network of interaction between
frugivorous bat species and habitats of
Cerrado with the plant species they eat

Figure VI. Network of interaction between
nectarivorous bat species and habitats of
Cerrado with the plant species they eat

Figure VII. Simulation of secondary extinction
of frugivorous bat species of Cerrado based on
the extinction of the least connected habitats
first (left) and the extinction of the most
connected habitats first (right).

Figure VIII. Simulation of secondary
extinction of nectarivorous bat species of
Cerrado based on the extinction of the least
connected habitats first (left) and the
extinction of the most connected habitats
first (right).

Figure XI. Cluster dendrogram of similarity
of the diet of frugivorous bats of Cerrado.

Figure XII. Cluster dendrogram of similarity
of the diet of frugivorous bats of Cerrado.

Conclusions
Preserving forest formations is very important for their conservation, specially the gallery forests as they played a major role in their diet and held the highest number of
interactions. At the same time, for bat species in the nectarivorous network, it`s more important to preserve a diversity of habitats and species. In both cases, similarities
between habitats in terms of plant species and bats diet has to be taken into account to avoid overlapping in conservation efforts for the protection of bats as bats diet can
grouped by clusters of species and some habitats show a high similarity in terms of composition of plant species for bats diet.