Ecological study and food habit analysis of endemic bat species ‘Rhinolophus beddomei’ in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra
Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute Of Environment Education And Research
The bat fauna in Western Ghats of Maharashtra specifically those inhabiting only high altitude forests are poorly studied and species occurrence data is still incomplete due to patchy studies and inconsistent efforts and methodologies. Present study investigated and documented basic ecological parameters including food habit for endemic bat species Rhinolophus beddomei from selected roosting sites in Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
Methods used in the study were, recording basic micro climatic parameters using hygrometer, roost count method used for population counting, insect traps (luminescent) to check insect availability, guano and prey remains collection at roosting place and microscopic analysis of guano to determine food habits. Data was collected in three respective seasons at peak period from selected sites in Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
Ecological parameters including feeding habits and vegetation structure for Rhinolophus beddomei were recorded : humidity, 61%; temperature, 24 degree Celsius; altitude > 1300 meter and habitat type (high altitude semi evergreen forest). The study also suggests that Rhinolophus beddomei is largely dependent on Coleopteran insects (Scarabidae family) as their primary food source, even though there were equal or greater availability of other prey taxa.
The major threats to Rhinolophus beddomei are roost disturbance by tourism, high vulnerability to extinction and degradation of high altitude forest.The baseline ecological data collected for Rhinolophus beddomei will be helpful in understanding the distribution, abundance, habitat preferences and designing necessary conservation measures for Rhinolophus beddomei as this endemic species needs immediate protection.