Effect of water quality on species richness and activity of desert-dwelling bats Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Abstract Natural bodies of open water in desert landscapes are important resources for survival of desert-dwelling animals and in recent years artificial bodies of water may have become equally important. In the present study we are testing if species richness and activity of bats are related to the water chemistry both in natural and artificial bodies of water, and if these measures can indicate water quality in desert habitats where water is scarce. We combined acoustic monitoring of bat activity and species richness in artificial and natural bodies of water in the Negev desert, Israel and measured 27 variables of water chemistry and quality at each site. Significant differences in water chemistry and quality were found between natural and artificial bodies of water. Species richness and activity of bats did not differ between artificial and natural bodies of water, indicating that desert-dwelling bats may benefit from artificial bodies of water, however activity within species differed between natural and artificial bodies of water. Some species of bats were only recorded at natural bodies of water, suggesting that these species are not tolerant to lower quality of water and emphasizes the importance of natural bodies of water in desert ecosystems. Our results demonstrate that community measures, such as total bat activity and species richness of bats in desert habitats, may not be sufficient to indicate changes in water chemistry and quality. Rather it is recommended and applicable to use the activity of specific species as indicators of water quality in desert habitats.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015