Brevia

Bats Limit Arthropods and Herbivory in a Tropical Forest

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Science  04 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5872, pp. 71
DOI: 10.1126/science.1153352

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Abstract

Previous exclosure studies measuring the top-down control of arthropod abundance and herbivory combined the effects of birds and bats. We experimentally partitioned bird predation from bat predation in a lowland tropical forest in Panama and measured the direct effects (arthropod abundance) and indirect effects (herbivory). The exclusion of birds and bats each directly increased arthropod abundance on plants: Bird-exclosed plants contained 65% more, and bat-exclosed plants 153% more, arthropods than controls. Birds and bats also indirectly increased herbivory: Bird-exclosed plants suffered 67% more, and bat-exclosed plants 209% more, herbivory than controls. We conclude that bats have dramatic ecological effects that were previously overlooked.

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