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Acacia trees crucial to Israel’s desert bats, study finds

Phys.org/news (Feb 20, 2013 )

Titre : Acacia trees crucial to Israel’s desert bats, study finds

Greater conservation of threatened acacia trees is needed to preserve vulnerable species of rare insectivorous bats in Israel, according to new research by biologists at the University of Bristol. Dense areas of flourishing acacia trees are in decline due to increasing water stress and the encroachment of human activity into their ecosystem, but such trees represent the only habitat that supports some rare and endangered species of bat.

Phys.org/news (Feb 20, 2013 )

Présentation
In a study published today in PLOS ONE, Dr Marc Holderied and colleagues from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel demonstrate the importance of dense acacia tree habitats for protected bats and their arthropod prey (for example, insects, spiders and scorpions) in comparison to other natural and artificial habitats.

The researchers used acoustic monitoring of bat calls and collecting arthropods using light and pit traps to sample species. They found that, where acacia trees are most dense and healthy, bat activity and species diversity are highest. Since arthropod numbers didn’t vary the same way between the different habitats investigated, the researchers conclude that the greater bat diversity at acacia trees is not solely a result of differences in prey numbers. In the hottest and driest times of the year, only healthy Acacia trees maintained high prey numbers showing their particular importance during such bottlenecks in food supply.

Source  : University of Bristol

Annonce (Phys.org/news)

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