Identifying important habitat features for Bat conservation using acoustic sampling and GIS.
Townsend, Jonathan Peter
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Bat populations worldwide have been under pressure for decades due to loss of habitat, roost disturbances and environmental toxins. Recently a fungus causing White Nose Syndrome has been infecting bat hibernacula in the United States, and to date has killed almost 6 million bats. In order to improve bat conservation efforts, habitat delineations and bio-acoustical sampling were conducted along two transects in Chautauqua County, NY from mid-May until the end of August, 2013. Surveys were vehicular, and driven between 29 - 32 k mph in order to match bats flying speed. They were conducted 30 min after sunset on nights where the temperature was > 13°C. Twenty surveys were completed, and 1248 bats were identified to species. Log-linear analysis revealed a significant relationship between bat calling activity and forested habitats, specifically for big brown, silver haired, eastern red, and hoary bats. Wetland, stream, and residential habitats as well as elevation were also shown to have a significant relationship with calling activity. This study supports the hypothesis that bats forage in somewhat different habitats at the species level, and indicates the relatively strong importance of forested areas to bats. Additionally, the methodology for this study has the potential to gather rather large data sets in a short period of time, while collecting data on several species of bat at once.
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