Abstract

Population dynamics, roost selection and reproductive patterns of some cave bats from Western of Mexico. Almost half of bat species that occur in Mexico use caves as permanent or temporal roosts. However, the ecological studies about cave bat communities are scarce. In this work we studied the population dynamics, roost selection and reproductive patterns of some bats present in El Salitre Cave, Colima, Mexico. We carried out monthly samplings between August 2003-March 2005 using a harp trap for bats capture, we took their biological data and marked some of them with plastic rings. We also explored the cave to locate bat colonies and register microclimatic conditions in each cave section. We captured a total of 16 409 bats of which 31% were Mormoops megalophylla, 24.5% Pteronotus personatus, 23% P. davyi, 8.2% P. parnellii, 5.8% Natalus mexicanus and 5.3% Glossophaga soricina. Macrotus waterhousii, G. morenoi, Desmodus rotundus, Balantiopteryx plicata, and Glyphonycteris sylvestris represented only 2.2% of the captures. Some bat species used the cave as a permanent day roost while others as a seasonal one, and their population size varied markedly along the year and between rainy and dry seasons. Most bat population peaks were linked with their reproductive periods. The Pteronotus species and N. mexicanus exhibited sexual segregation during the breeding season. The mormoopids and N. mexicanus occupied deeper parts of the cave with temperatures >25.8°C and relative humidity >99%. The phyllostomids occupied intermediate sections where the ambient was less hot and humid, with temperatures of 23.2-28.3°C and humidity of 74-89.9%. Some individuals of B. plicata and G. sylvestris were seen occasionally occupying one chamber near the entrance two, where temperature and humidity were of 23.2°C and 84.2%, respectively. The mormoopids and N. mexicanus showed a pattern of seasonal monoestry, synchronized with rainy season. Glossophaga soricina had a pattern of bimodal seasonal poliestry, with one reproductive peak to early of dry season and another to last of this season. Macrotus waterhousii did not exhibit a seasonal pattern, with parturitions occurring throughout the year. Our results indicate a seasonal replacement between several species as well as seasonal movements to other caves. The data indicate that the carrying capacity of the cave is mainly determined by the availability of roosting sites. The selection of roosting sites is linked to the close relationship between microclimatic conditions and the species physiological characteristics. The reproduction of mormoopids and N. mexicanus was mostly influenced by rainfall which determinates food availability.
Keywords: cave bats, population ecology, roost selection, reproduction, seasonality, tropical deciduous forest, mexico