Roosts are critical for the reproduction and survival of bats and many species spend a significant portion of their lives in them; thus, individuals should carefully select sites that reduce predation risk while providing ideal microclimatic conditions. Many studies have determined that bats select warmer and more humid roosts in temperate regions, but few studies have determined if roosts selected by tropical species also provide suitable conditions. In this study we compare temperature and humidity within and outside furled tubular leaves of plants in the order Zingiberales, which are used by several tropical species as roost-sites, to determine if these structures provide microclimatic advantages to bats. We found very small differences between the internal and external temperatures of tubular leaves, and the difference further decreased as leaves developed. However, we found large differences in humidity within the tubular leaf compared to external conditions, which were strongly dependent on a leaf's diameter and genus. The internal humidity was often 20% above the external, particularly when leaves were narrower, and tubular leaves in the genus Heliconia were more humid than those in the genus Calathea. Our findings suggest that, despite being fairly exposed structures, furled tubular leaves provide suitable microclimatic conditions for tropical species.
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Vol. 21 • No. 1