Habitat disturbance results in chronic stress and impaired health status in forest-dwelling paleotropical bats

Seltmann, Anne and Czirják, Gábor Á. and Courtiol, Alexandre and Bernard, Henry and Struebig, Matthew J. and Voigt, Christian C. (2017) Habitat disturbance results in chronic stress and impaired health status in forest-dwelling paleotropical bats. Conservation Physiology, 5 (1). ISSN 2051-1434. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cox020) (Full text available)

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https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cox020

Abstract

Anthropogenic habitat disturbance is a major threat to biodiversity worldwide. Yet, before population declines are detectable, individuals may suffer from chronic stress and impaired immunity in disturbed habitats, making them more susceptible to pathogens and adverse weather conditions. Here, we tested in a paleotropical forest with ongoing logging and fragmentation, whether habitat disturbance influences the body mass and immunity of bats. We measured and compared body mass, chronic stress (indicated by neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios) and the number of circulating immune cells between several bat species with different roost types living in recovering areas, actively logged forests, and fragmented forests in Sabah, Malaysia. In a cave-roosting species, chronic stress levels were higher in individuals from fragmented habitats compared with conspecifics from actively logged areas. Foliage-roosting species showed a reduced body mass and decrease in total white blood cell counts in actively logged areas and fragmented forests compared with conspecifics living in recovering habitats. Our study highlights that habitat disturbance may have species-specific effects on chronic stress and immunity in bats that are potentially related to the roost type. We identified foliage-roosting species as particularly sensitive to forest habitat deterioration. These species may face a heightened extinction risk in the near future if anthropogenic habitat alterations continue.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Anthropogenic disturbance, bats, body mass, chronic stress, fragmentation, white blood cell count
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Matthew Struebig
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 10:21 UTC
Last Modified: 16 May 2017 10:21 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/61739 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Struebig, Matthew J.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2058-8502
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