Mist nets set at ground level is the traditional method of surveying bats and in the Amazon, almost half of the bat surveys used this methodology. The sole use of ground-level mist nets biases surveys because of the lack of records of aerial insectivorous bats, which forage above the canopy or in other open areas. Canopy mist nets, roost searches and acoustic surveys are methods to survey bat assemblages, but their efficiency compared to ground-level mist nets has not been fully evaluated in the Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest. Here, we test how the complementarity of sampling methods contributes to the number of species recorded in bat surveys in the Amazonian rainforest. We simultaneously sampled bats using ground mist nets and ultrasonic recorders at the Ducke Reserve (Central Amazon) in Brazil and did a literature review of bat surveys conducted in the Amazon to assess how these methods have been used in field research during the recent decades. Forty-three bat species were identified using ground mist nets, and seventeen species and five acoustic sonotypes were identified using ultrasonic recorders in Ducke Reserve. The combination of ground mist nets and acoustic recorders registered the largest number of bat species. However, for phyllostomid species the sole use of mist nets was efficient in recording the highest number of species, whereas for aerial insectivores acoustic surveys was the most effective. Of the 54 bat surveys made in the Amazon, 27 localities used complementary methods: roost search, canopy mist nets, harp traps and acoustic surveys. The combination of ground and canopy nets, and ground nets with roost search did not record more phyllostomid bat species than the use of ground nets alone. However, the sole use of acoustic surveys recorded more aerial insectivorous species than any other combination of sampling methods. Using mist nets and acoustic surveys simultaneously, as in our study, results in a dramatic increase in species diversity and different guilds than using only mist nets in the Amazon. Canopy nets and roost search did not increase the total number of species or the number of phyllostomid species in bat surveys. By combining different survey methodologies, we can optimize the recorded diversity of bats, especially using both mist nets and acoustic monitoring.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2