Natural and artificial canopy bridges can be used to mitigate the effects of habitat fragmentation. Understanding the ecological factors that influence bridge use is imperative to the effective design and placement of this potential conservation intervention. Moonlight, seasonality and weather may influence the cost and risk of using bridges, potentially reducing their effectiveness. We installed five artificial waterline bridges and, between 2017 and 2019, monitored via camera trapping their use by Javan palm civets Paradoxurus musanga javanicus and Javan slow lorises Nycticebus javanicus. We used a weather station to record microclimate data (temperature and relative humidity) and calculated the illumination percentage of the moon. We tested the influence of moon luminosity, relative humidity, seasonality (Julian day) and temperature on the frequency of bridge use via Generalised Additive Models. Camera traps captured 938 instances of bridge use by civets, which was significantly lower than the reference value at moon luminosity > 90%, temperatures > 20 °C, humidity > 90%, and during the drier period (May–July). Camera traps captured 1036 instances of bridge use by lorises, which was significantly lower than the reference value during the drier period and higher than the reference value at temperatures > 20 °C. Lorises showed peaks in bridge use close to sunset and sunrise whereas civets showed peaks around 2 h after sunset and 2 h before sunrise. Our study illustrates the utility of simple-to-construct bridges by two sympatric nocturnal mammals facing severe habitat loss, with bridge use differing between those species according to abiotic factors. In particular, less use by both taxa during the drier season could suggest modifying placement of bridges or providing another intervention during that time. Camera traps were an excellent mechanism to record these differences and to validate the importance of the bridges, including during inclement weather and dark nights, when observations would be more difficult for human observers. By understanding the influence that abiotic factors have on the use of artificial bridges, we can improve bridge placement and construction to encourage use by a variety of species, particularly those threatened by habitat fragmentation.
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Nekaris, K.A.I.Handby, VictoriaCampera, Marco
Department of Social Sciences
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