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Molossid bats in an African agro-ecosystem select sugarcane fields as foraging habitat

Keywords: Chiroptera , Molossidae , habitat selection , telemetry , foraging habitat.

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Abstract:

Two coexisting species of African molossids the little free-tailed bat, Chaerephon pumila, and the Angolan free-tailed bat, Mops condylurus, were studied in the lowveld of Swaziland. Nine C. pumila and five M. condylurus, all non-lactating females, were radio-tracked in order to investigate their habitat utilisation. The results confirmed that both of these species selected to forage over sugarcane fields instead of over the other habitats available in the area: savanna, riparian forest and urban areas. Foraging ranges were relatively large with C. pumila travelling on average a maximum of 4.2 km from the roost and M. condylurus covering 4.8 km. The mean activity areas ranged from 976 ha (Minimum convex polygon) to 1319 ha (95% Kernel) for C. pumila and from 1190 ha (MCP) to 1437 ha (95% Kernel) for M. condylurus. Interspecific differences in the mean activity area or maximum distance travelled were not found. The results of this study suggest that these species have a potential role as pest controlling agents over sugarcane fields.

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