A Study of Diversity and Distribution of Bats at Meru National Park, Kenya

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Addis Ababa University


The present study was carried out in MelU National Park, Kenya and adjacent farms from September 2000 to February 2001. The diversity and distribution of bats based on vegetation disturbance and plant species cover/abundance were examined. Four hundred and ninety five (495) bats representing the families Pteropodidae (2 species), Megadermatidae (2 species), Vespertilionidae (4 species), Molossidae (3 species), Hipposidetidae (2 species), Nyctetidae (l species) and Rhinolophidae (1 species) were recorded. Four species: --Nycteris arge, Myotis welwitschii, Tadarida cistllra and Tadarida acetabllloslls had not been previously recorded in eastem Kenya. Open Acacia woodland consisted of the highest proportion of bats (38%) and the fatms consisted the least (8.9%). The species EP01l10p/lOrlls iabiatlls, Ep0Il10p/IOI'/IS wahlbergi and Cardioderll1a cor were captured in all the vegetation communities and on the farms. Both COll1brefllm wooded grassland and Acacia-Coll1llliphora bushland had the highest species richness (S = 9) while open Acacia woodland and the farms had 7 and 4 species respectively. Bat species diversity was highest in the COll1bretlll1l wooded grassland (H' = 1.70 and D = 4.6) and least on the farms (H'= 0.955 and D = 1.99). Similarly, Shannon's evenness index was highest in the COll1bretum wooded grassland (E = 0.76) but least in the Open Acacia woodland (E = 0.52). Most species of bats were found to be mostly associated with COll1bretlll1l wooded grassland and Acacia-Coll1l11ip/lOra bushland and least with open Acacia woodland indicating probable disturbance in the open Acacia woodland relative to other vegetation communities in the park. Bat species diversity conelated positively with plant species diversity in all plant species assemblages except assemblage 4. The low species tichness and diversity and increased dominance of a few generalist species in the open Acacia woodland and on the farms may reflect different levels of disturbance. The absence of rare and specialist bats on the farms may be a fUlther indication of the effects of habitat disturbance on the diversity and distribution of bats.