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Dumolein, Iris [1], Hiller, Thomas [2], Martin, Thomas E. [3], Medina-van Berkum, Pamela [3], Vulinec, Kevina [3], Verbeken, Annemieke [1], Haelewaters, Danny [3].

The bat as a house for different residents: a tritrophic survey of bats, flies, and fungi in a Honduran cloud forest.

Bats (Chiroptera) have a long life span, a low reproductive rate, and a high metabolism. They exhibit a wide range in sociality, from being solitary to living in large colonies. Finally, bat roosting habits vary from ephemeral (leaf tents) to permanent structures (tunnels and caves). Their ecology makes them excellent hosts for parasites. The most conspicuous ectoparasites of bats are the bloodsucking bat flies (Diptera). These flies can themselves be infected by Laboulbeniales fungi (Ascomycota), resulting in a tritrophic system. Mist-netting was conducted at Cusuco National Park, a mesoamerican cloud forest in Honduras. Our mistnetting yielded a total of 590 captured bats, of which 584 were identified to species level in the field. Five hundred and one bat flies were collected from 202 of 521 screened bats. We examined these flies for the presence of Laboulbeniales and found a mean prevalence of 3.19%. We found Laboulbeniales belonging in the genera Gloeandromyces (4 species) and Nycteromyces (1 species). In addition to G. nycteribiidarum, G. pageanus, and G. streblae, we report on an undescribed species of Gloeandromyces associated with a  Trichobius uniformis  bat fly, which was collected from  a Glossophaga soricina nectar-feeding bat. Tropical montane cloud forests, such as Cusuco National Park, represent irreplaceable hotspots for biodiversity and provide many ecosystem services. Each Mesoamerican cloud forest site may represent an "island in the sky" supporting a distinct community of endemic species. Despite their ecological importance, Mesoamerican cloud forests are critically threatened. As activities such as logging and agriculture, as well as the impacts of anthropogenically-induced climate change, continue to increase, more pressure is being put on cloud forest communities. This could lead to declines and even extinctions in species we know little about, and in some cases have not yet even been described, such as the diverse range of organisms that live on bats. We investigated associations and host specificity patterns among bats, bat flies, and fungi, and compared these with previous datasets. We also analyzed the extent to which the tritrophic associations were influenced by abiotic factors such as roosting behavior and canopy openness, a parameter we used as a proxy for habitat destruction through logging. With this research, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of these fascinating associations to develop suitable conservation actions for bats while also considering their often ignored parasites.

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Related Links:
Laboulbeniales fungi associated with bat flies

1 - Ghent University, Department of Biology, Research Group Mycology, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, Ghent, 9000, Belgium
2 - University of Hohenheim, Ecology of Tropical Agricultural Systems, Garbenstrasse 13, Stuttgart, 70599, Germany
3 - Operation Wallacea Ltd, Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire, PE23 4EX, United Kingdom

association network
montane tropical forest
habitat loss
arthropod-associated fungi

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: MY2, Mycology: Human and Animal Pathogens
Location: /
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021
Time: 1:15 PM(EDT)
Number: MY2004
Abstract ID:481
Candidate for Awards:MSA Best Oral Presentation Award by a Graduate Student

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