Definitions of Habitat Types

The terrestrial habitat types used by this database are listed below and are the standard terms used in the IUCN Red List Habitats Authority File (Version 3.0). For more information please see IUCN Habitats Classification Scheme

It is acknowledged that the classification scheme used here may not be entirely satisfactory, but it provides a standardization of habitat types for analytical purposes.

This database only report data as it is published and does not make changes or evaluates accuracy of the species accounts.

  1. Forest: Forest consists of a continuous stand of trees and includes both forested areas (generally with a closed canopy) and wooded areas (canopy more open but see savanna below). It includes primary forest, secondary forest, forest edge, temperate forest, subtropical/tropical dry forest, subtropical/tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical/tropical mangrove, subtropical/tropical swamp, and subtropical/tropical moist mountain forest.
  2. Savanna: Savannas are ecosystems dominated by a grass ground cover with an overstory of widely spaced trees. May be referred to as savanna woodlands, savanna parklands, savanna grasslands, low tree/shrub savannas, thicket/scrub savannas. It includes dry savanna and moist savanna.
  3. Shrubland: Also referred to as scrub, bushland and thicket. It includes temperate shrubland, subtropical/tropical dry & moist shrubland, subtropical/tropical high altitude shrubland, and mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation.
  4. Grassland: Grasslands occur in regions with warm growing seasons and moderate water shortages. Native grasslands are comprised of grasses and broadleaved herbaceous plants, and are either without woody plants, or the latter are very sparsely distributed. It includes temperate grasslands, subtropical/tropical dry lowland grasslands, subtropical/tropical seasonally flooded grasslands, and subtropical/tropical seasonally high altitude grassland.
  5. Wetlands (Inland): Wetlands correspond to the wetland types recognised by Ramsar. Includes only inland waters – other types are not covered by this database.
  6. Rocky Areas: Includes inland cliffs, mountain peaks, talus, feldmark.
  7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (Non-aquatic): Underground spaces produced naturally by the weathering of rock. Can extend deep underground, or can be much smaller rock.
    (Used only when interaction took place in cave or if landscape is dominated by caves. Ex. Fecal samples collected from cave roost floor were the result of interactions in the surrounding forest.)
  8. Desert: Desert consists of arid landscapes with a sparse plant cover, except in depressions where water accumulates. The sandy, stony or rocky substrate contributes more to the appearance of the landscape than does the vegetation. It includes hot desert, temperate desert, and cold desert.
  9. Artificial landscapes: Consists of human-made landscapes, such as agricultural land, suburban and urban areas.
  10. Captivity: Refers to bats that are in enclosed facilities under human care long-term.

Definitions of Interaction Types

This database only contains accounts of bats interacting with other organisms and not hypotheses that they might (e.g. a flower has chiropterophilious features). We report what is published and do not assume that every visit to a flower results in pollination or that every fruit eaten results in seed dispersal. We do assume that every object that is consumed is destroyed in the process.

The database recognizes 34 total interaction types that are divided here by the object of their interaction (see Conceptual Data Map, under About Database tab). The different interaction types per object may show “gradients” of use. For instance, if a study shows, by performing exclusion experiments, that a bat is a pollinator of a particular plant species, then it is assumed that it has also visited the flower, therefore “Flower visitation” does not need to be reported as well.

Interactions should be witnessed by author(s) or recorded via photo, video, or bat detector. In order to distinguish between interaction types, additional confirmation from evidence in fecal samples, stomachs, exclusion experiments, etc., may be necessary.  If the author(s) cite an interaction from another publication, it uses the “secondary” tag.

Interactions with Plants:

  • Flower Visitation: The bat is observed interacting with a flower to collect nectar or pollen, but it is not confirmed that it has come into contact with the flower’s reproductive parts. Pollen may be found on fur, in feces or stomach, but deposition on another flower isn’t confirmed. (Type: Visitation, Tag: Flower)
  • Consumption
    • Flower Consumption: The bat deliberately eats flowers to the extent that the damage is greater than the potential benefits of pollen transport and pollination is thus unlikely. Consumption or flower damage must be witnessed. A bat with pollen in its feces does not indicate that it consumed the flower. (Type: Consumption, Tag: Flower)
    • Fruit Consumption:The bat feeds on the fruit in situ without relocating the fruit or seeds, or feeds on fruits such as bananas in the New World that do not actually have seeds. Also, use this interaction type if the only evidence of the animal visiting the plant is pulp in feces or stomach. (Type: Consumption, Tag: Fruit)
    • Seed Consumption: The bat may appear to be dispersing seeds/fruit, but in actuality is deliberately masticating or otherwise destroying seeds when feeding (example: Chiroderma crushing and swallowing masticated Ficus seeds in Nogueira & Peracchi, 2003). This is a rather rare interaction to be observed. (Type: Consumption, Tag: Seed)
    • Leaf Consumption: The bat deliberately chews or eats leaves. Use this interaction type when the author(s) report the animal eating leaves in situ or finding leaf fragments in ejecta pellets under roosts. (Type: Consumption, Tag: Leaf)
  • Flower Pollination:The bat visits the flower and makes contact with the reproductive parts (anthers and stigma), collecting and depositing pollen on the stigma, often resulting in fertilization and development of fruit/seeds. The action is confirmed if author(s) show the deposition of pollen and/or fruits development using exclusion experiments, video/photography showing pollen deposition, or other method, such as adhesives, showing pollen deposition. Pollen on the fur or in stomachs or feces does NOT indicate pollination. (Type: Pollination, Tag: Flower)
  • Seed Dispersal:This process typically implies fruit consumption, so it is not needed to report both “Fruit Consumption” and “Seed Dispersal”. The bat removes fruit/seed (diaspore) from the parent plant and deposits seeds in a new location without harming them. This can include the following types of primary dispersal: (Type: Seed Dispersal)
    • Endozoochorous (diaspore is ingested and passed unharmed through the digestive tract),
    • Epizoochorous (diaspore sticks to the skin, feathers, or fur via barbs, hooks, or viscid surface), or
    • Stomatochorous (diaspore is deliberately carried away by an animal and dropped with viable seeds after the edible parts are consumed)
  • Roost: The bat uses the leaf or other part of the plant as a day or night roost. These can be roosts in foliage (used opportunistically or “tent” created by the bat), in tree cavities, under exfoliating bark, out in the open on tree trunks, boles, or branches, under fallen logs, inside the “pitchers” of Nepenthes, or other plant structure. (Type: Roost, Tag: Leaf, Wood)
  • Bryophyte Fragment Transport:The bat acts as a transport agent by carrying bryophyte fragments internally or externally after contact with the parent bryophyte, which are then able to reproduce asexually via fragmentation in a new location. (Type: Transport, Tag: Bryophyte Fragment)

Interactions with Arthropods:

  • Arthropod Predation: The bat deliberately consumes arthropods in the air, on a surface, or in the water. (Type: Predation)
  • Prey of Arthropod: The bat is consumed by an arthropod, such as an arachnid. A whole bat caught in a web does not mean the spider will consume the bat. (Type: Prey)
  • Arthropod Transport:The bat is being used by the arthropod as a transport agent (e.g, flower mites moving from one plant to another). (Type: Transport, Tag: Arthropod)
  • Arthropod Host: The bat functions as the host (parasitic, mutualistic, or commensal) of an arthropod, usually as an ectoparasite in the fur or embedded in the skin around the ears and nose. (Type: Host)
  • Cohabitation with Arthropod:The bat is witnessed, recorded, or photographed to be sharing a space with an arthropod, such as in an active termite mound. (Type: Cohabitation)

Interactions with Birds and Mammals:

  • Bird/Mammal Predation:The bat deliberately consumes a bird or mammal in the air, on a surface, or in the water. This interaction type includes bats that eat other bat species. (Type: Predation)
  • Prey of Bird/Mammal:The bat is deliberately consumed by a bird or another mammal. This interaction type includes bats eaten by another bat species. (Type: Prey)
  • Hematophagy:The bat deliberately consumes the blood of a bird or mammal without consuming the flesh other than what may be unintentionally ingested at the site of blood consumption. (Type: Hematophagy)
  • Cohabitation with Bird/Mammal:The bat is witnessed, recorded, or photographed to be sharing a space with a bird or mammal, such as in bird’s nest or with other bat species. (Type: Cohabitation)

Interactions with Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish:

  • Reptile/Amphibian/Fish Predation:The bat deliberately consumes the animal in the air, on a surface, or in the water. (Type: Predation)
  • Prey of Reptile/Amphibian/Fish:The bat is deliberately consumed from the air, on a surface, or in the water. (Type: Prey)

Interactions with Fungi:

  • Consumption:The bat deliberately eats a fungus (mushroom-type). Consumption must be witnessed. (Type: Consumption, Tag: Fungi)
  • Host: The bat functions as the host (parasitic, mutualistic, or commensal) to a fungus, either internally or externally.

Interactions with Viruses and Bacteria:

  • Host:The bat functions as the host (parasitic, mutualistic, or commensal) to a virus or bacteria, either internally or externally.

Interactions with Other Parasites: (Coming Soon)

  • Host: The bat functions as the host (parasitic, mutualistic, or commensal) to a worm, or other parasite in Kingdoms Protozoa or Chromista, either internally or externally. (Type: Host, Tag: Endoparasite, Ectoparasite)