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2011 | 13 | 1 |
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Noctilio albiventris (Noctilionidae), a potential seed disperser in disturbed tropical dry forest habitats

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The lesser bulldog bat, Noctilio albiventfis, is a species widely distributed in Tropical America that feeds mainly on insects; however, a few studies have revealed that this bat can have broader dietary habits, including plant items. In this study we examined the feeding habits of N. albiventris in a dry forest in the Central Llanos of Venezuela, and determined variations in its diet across a successional gradient. We analyzed fecal samples from 28 out of 41 individuals captured during two years of sampling. Most samples came from pastures and early successional growth plots (88.9%), the rest came from samples obtained in intermediate (3.7%) and advanced (7.4%) successional stages. About 74.1% of the samples contained only insects, 18.5% a combination of insects and fruit remains with seeds, and 7.4% only fruit and seeds. Three species of plants were identified in the feces: Ficus sp., Maclura tinctoria, and Piper sp. Our results suggest that N. albiventris can be considered a potential seed dispersal agent in disturbed areas close to dry forests in the Neotropics. Temporal adoption of plant-feeding habits in a member of the Noctilionoidea linage is concordant with the close phylogenetic relationship demonstrated for bat species within the families Noctilionidae, Mystacinidae and Phyllostomidae.
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