An investigation into the assemblage structure of the microchiropteran fauna of the Queensland tropical upland wet sclerophyll zone

Christopher Ian Clague (2004). An investigation into the assemblage structure of the microchiropteran fauna of the Queensland tropical upland wet sclerophyll zone PhD Thesis, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Christopher Ian Clague
Thesis Title An investigation into the assemblage structure of the microchiropteran fauna of the Queensland tropical upland wet sclerophyll zone
School, Centre or Institute School of Biomedical Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2004
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof.Jack Pettigrew
Dr.Roger Coles
Graham Harrington
Total pages 232
Language eng
Subjects 06 Biological Sciences
Formatted abstract

This study identified 12 microchiropteran assemblages in six forest types within the tropical wet sclerophyll zone. Seven of the identified assemblages were noted from summer sampling and five from winter sampling. The level of resolution was due to the scale of the study and the quadrat based echolocation sampling methodology. The assemblages comprised of 22 microchiroptera species and differed from each other in their species-specific activity patterns. The five most diverse (Shannon-Weiner) assemblages were noted from summer sampling. 

The structural complexity of the forests may influence the distribution of five species (Chalinolobus gouldii, Nyctophilus bifax, N. geoffroyi, Rhinolophus megaphyllus, Vespadelus pumilus), whilst foliage height diversity (MacArthur & MacArthur 1961) did not relate strongly to any of the calculated diversity measures for the identified assemblages.

The species in the study were separated into five foraging guilds: fast aerial insectivore (n=9), slow aerial insectivore (n=5), gleaning (n=5), flycatcher (n=4) and trawling (n=l). Members of all of the guilds except flycatcher and trawling were present in all of the assemblages. The flycatcher guild was absent from the three assemblages associated with dry sclerophyll (Type 7) forests. This absence is likely to be due to a scarcity of roosts suitable for the members of this guild in this forest type. The one member trawling guild was absent from five assemblages which occurred in forests without still, unobstructed water bodies. 

In size-related morphospace (weight & forearm length) overlaps were apparent in the fast aerial insectivore guild between Scotorepens sanboni and Mormopterus loriae and in the gleaning guild between Kerivoula papuensis and Nyctophilus gouldi. No inter-specific interaction was noted for these overlapping species pairs. The partitioning of forearm length and weight was tested for the source pool and the guilds within the source pool and within the assemblages. Only the overall source pool demonstrated a uniform distribution of bat weight. No other tested level produced a uniform or clumped distribution for either weight or forearm length.

There were within guild species pairs in overlap in flight morphospace (wing-loading & aspect ratio) for all but the flycatcher and trawling guilds. The two overlapping species pairs in the gleaning guild (K. papuensis I N. gouldi & Murina florium I N. geoffroyi) displayed no evidence of interaction. One of five fast aerial insectivore overlapping species pairs (Tadarida australis / Saccolaimus flaviventris: figure 4.76) displayed a pattern of coexistence that suggests competition. All five slow aerial insectivore species pairs that overlap in flight morphospace demonstrated evidence of inter-specific interaction. Association is suggested to occur between Chalinolobus gouldii and C. nigrogriseus and between Miniopterus australis and Vespadelus troughtoni. Competition may generate the observed patterns of co-occurrence for V. troughtoni and C. gouldii, M. australis and C. gouldii and for M. australis and C. nigrogriseus.

Dietary ecospace (λ of Fmin & dentary length) highlighted two overlaps within the gleaning guild {Murina florium I K. papuensis & M. florium I N. gouldi) and one overlap in the slow aerial insectivore guild. The overlapping gleaning guild species pairs did not display evidence of inter-specific interaction whilst the overlapping slow aerial insectivore species pair (K troughtoni I V. pumilus) display parapatry. 


The 22 species of bats identified in the tropical upland wet sclerophyll zone avoid or mitigate competition through separation in one or more niche dimensions or through the spatial segregation of the sampled forest types. Four species pairs display evidence of contemporary competition (Tadarida australis I Saccolaimus flaviventris Vespadelus troughtoni I Chalinolobus gouldii; Miniopterus australis I C. gouldii; M. australis I Chalinolobus nigrogriseus). The level and intensity of this competitive signal was stable through the three years of the study. One species pair (F. pumilus I V. troughtoni) displayed clear spatial segregation through parapatry, this distribution may be generated by the operation of competitive exclusion. Two species pairs (C gouldii I C. nigrogriseus and M. australis I V. troughtoni) displayed association, perhaps as a result of responding similarly to the same environmental gradient. 

Keyword Bats -- Queensland, Northern -- Identification
Habitat (Ecology) -- Queensland, Northern
Additional Notes Page number 20 and 219 are missing from the original thesis.(wrong page number).

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 15:46:08 EST by Erica Wei on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service