Rocha, R., Ferreira, D.F., López-Baucells, A., Farneda, F.Z., Carreiras, J.M.B, Palmeirim, J.M. & Meyer, C.F.J. (2017) Does sex matter? Gender-specific responses to forest fragmentation in Neotropical bats.Biotropica, 47(3), 259-263. DOI:10.1111/btp.12474 (IF2017 2,281; Q3 Ecology)
Understanding the consequences of habitat modification on wildlife communities is central to the development of conservation strategies. However, albeit male and female individuals of numerous species are known to exhibit differences in habitat use, sex‐specific responses to habitat modification remain little explored. Here, we used a landscape‐scale fragmentation experiment to assess, separately for males and females, the effects of fragmentation on the abundance of Carollia perspicillata and Rhinophylla pumilio, two widespread Neotropical frugivorous bats. We predicted that sex‐specific responses would arise from higher energetic requirements from pregnancy and lactation in females. Analyses were conducted independently for each season, and we further investigated the joint responses to local and landscape‐scale metrics of habitat quality, composition, and configuration. Although males and females responded similarly to a fragmentation gradient composed by continuous forest, fragment interiors, edges, and matrix habitats, we found marked differences between sexes in habitat use for at least one of the seasons. Whereas the sex ratio varied little in continuous forest and fragment interiors, females were found to be more abundant than males in edge and matrix habitats. This difference was more prominent in the dry season, the reproductive season of both species. For both species, abundance responses to local‐ and landscape‐scale predictors differed between sexes and again, differences were more pronounced in the dry season. The results suggest considerable sex‐mediated responses to forest disruption and degradation in tropical bats and complement our understanding of the impacts of fragmentation on tropical forest vertebrate communities.