Landscape modification represents one of the most severe threats to biodiversity from local to global scales. Conversion of forest to agricultural production generally results in patches of habitat that subdivide or isolate populations, alter the behavior of species, modify interspecific interactions, reduce biodiversity, and compromise ecosystem processes. Moreover, conversion may increase exposure of humans to zoonoses to which they would otherwise rarely be exposed. We evaluated the effects of forest conversion to agriculture, and its subsequent successional dynamics, on bat communities in a region of the Amazon that was predominantly closed-canopy rainforest. Based on a nonmanipulative experiment, we quantified differences in species composition, community structure, and taxonomic biodiversity among closed-canopy forest (bosque), agricultural lands (chacra), and secondary forest (purma) for two phyllostomid guilds (frugivores and gleaning animalivores) during the wet and dry seasons. Responses were complex and guild-specific. For frugivores, species composition (species abundance distributions) differed between all possible pairs of habitats in both wet and dry seasons. For gleaning animalivores, species composition differed between all possible pairs of habitats in the dry season, but no differences characterized the wet season. Ecological structure (rank abundance distributions) differed among habitats in guild-specific and season-specific manners. For frugivores, mean diversity, evenness, and dominance were greater in bosque than in purma; mean dominance was greater in bosque than in chacra, but local rarity was greater in chacra than in bosque, and no differences were manifest between purma and chacra. For gleaning animalivores, mean diversity and evenness were greater in bosque than in purma, but no differences were manifest between chacra and bosque, or between purma and chacra. Such results have important implications for management, conservation, and the epidemiology of zoonotic diseases.
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© 2019 American Society of Mammalogists.