Bat diversity and abundance in Omo Forest Reserve, Nigeria
Bats are yet to be incorporated in management plans in Nigeria. This is attributed to dearth in information as well as social stigma. This study was designed to determine bat species diversity, abundance and the relation of both indices to habitat structure. The survey was carried out in Omo forest reserve between May and June. Mist nets were deployed using stratified sampling method to place nets at 20 points. Netted points were set to be at least 200m apart. Total length of net averaged at 60 m, height ranged between 2-4m and set up after sunset from 1800-2300 hrs and before sunrise from 0400-0630 hrs. Sixty-four individuals were trapped belonging to 14 species in 8 genera and 6 families. Two other species were observed but not captured Eidolon helvum (Straw coloured fruit Bat) and Hypsignathus monstrosus (Hammer headed Fruit bat). Identification was based on Mammals of Nigeria and Mammals of Africa. Bat species diversity and bat abundance were higher in the forest compared to plantation but not significantly different. Bat species diversity decreased significantly as density of trees and litter cover increased while bat abundance decreased with increase in tree density but the relationship was not significant. Difference in diversity and abundance of bats is attributed to relative short distance between farmland and forest habitat types which provides easy access to bats for foraging. Habitat type and land usage influences the level of diversity and abundance of wildlife species for which bats are good indicators of habitat suitability.
Keywords: Bats, diversity, Omo forest reserve, deforestation, density of trees