Bat species diversity and distribution in three vegetation communities of Meru National Park, Kenya
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Diversity and distribution of bats was determined in four vegetation types in and around Meru National Park, Kenya between September 2000 and February 2001. Bat-habitat studies were based on plant species dominance, cover and farming activities. Bats were captured using standard mist nets (18 m long × 2 m high) erected on poles averaging 3 m. Vegetation was broadly grouped as Acacia or Combretum wooded grassland, or Acacia–Commiphora bushland and studied using the Braun-Blanquet method. Analysis of floristic similarity showed five vegetation species assemblages in the three broad categories. Four hundred and ninety-five bats representing eleven genera in seven families were recorded. These were Epomophorus labiatus, E. wahlbergi, Cardioderma cor, Lavia frons, Myotis welwitschii, Scotoecus hirundo, S. leucogaster, Pipistrellus kuhlii, Mops condylurus, Chaerephon bemmeleni, Mormopterus sp., Hipposideros caffer, H. commersoni, Nycteris arge and Rhinolophus landeri. This was the first record of N. arge, M. welwitschii, C. bemmeleni and a Mormopterus species in eastern Kenya. The Combretum community was most equitable (E = 0.51) with nine bat species records, while farming areas had only four. The low species richness and increased dominance of a few generalist species on farms may be indicative of different levels of disturbance.