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

Seltmann, Anne, Czirják, Gábor Á., Courtiol, Alexandre, Bernard, Henry, Struebig, Matthew J., Voigt, Christian C. (2017) Habitat disturbance results in chronic stress and impaired health status in forest-dwelling paleotropical bats. Conservation Physiology, 5 (1). Article Number cox020. ISSN 2051-1434. (doi:10.1093/conphys/cox020) (KAR id:61739)


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
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/conphys/cox020
Uncontrolled keywords: Anthropogenic disturbance, bats, body mass, chronic stress, fragmentation, white blood cell count
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and 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: 10 Dec 2022 07:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Struebig, Matthew J..

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