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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ectoparasite Presence, Density, And Unit Load In Relation To Tent-roosting Behavior Of Neotropical Bats

  • Author(s): Stuckey, Matthew
  • et al.

Behavioral defenses have evolved in response to the negative effects caused by ectoparasitism. Within neotropical bats, roosting behaviors have been studied as a possible reaction to the presence of parasitic bat flies and mites. Tent-making, the process of actively constructing protective roosts in foliage, was studied in order to assess its specific impact on ectoparasitism. Bats that exclusively utilized tents were predicted to suffer a lower level of ectoparasitism as their roosting behavior can disrupt ectoparasite lifecycles. I captured different bat species, categorized as either tent-roosting or non-tent-roosting, at several sites in Costa Rica, including Monteverde, San Luis and Peñas Blancas. All ectoparasites were collected with forceps and ultimately used to calculate presence, density, and unit load. After analysis, the bat species grouped as tent-makers, Artibeus toltecus and Platyrrhinus helleri, contained significantly lower levels of ectoparasite presence, density, and load in comparison with the species of bats that do not exclusively use tent roosts. These results, though suggestive, are derived from a relatively small sample of tent-making bats and can be strengthened by further replication on a larger scale.

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