Bat Habitat Ecology Using Remote Acoustical Detectors at the Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center - Fort Pickett, Blackstone, Virginia
St Germain, Michael J
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Bats occupy diverse and unique niches and are regarded as important components in maintaining ecosystem health. They are major consumers of nocturnal insects, serve as pollinators, seed disperser, and provide important economic benefits as consumers of agricultural and forest pest insects. Bats have been proposed as good indicators of the integrity of natural communities because they integrate a number of resource attributes and may show population declines quickly if a resource attribute is missing. Establishing community- and population-level data, and understanding species interactions is especially important in changing landscapes and for species whose populations levels are threatened by outside factors of anthropomorphic disturbance from hibernacular visitation to energy production and fungal pathogens. For these reasons I have set out to establish habitat use patterns, detection probabilities, spatial and temporal occupancy, and investigate species interactions. This thesis is broken down into three distinct chapters each intended to be a stand-alone document. The first establishes the basic ecology from natural history accounts, provides an overview of the various sampling strategies, and gives a comprehensive description of the study area. The seconds sets out to identify the factors influencing detection probabilities and occupancy of six sympatric bats species and provide insight into habitat use patterns. The third examines spatial and temporal activity patterns and investigates species interactions. This study can provide understanding into the secretive and poorly understood patterns of free flying bats across the landscape. It can also deliver useful information to land managers regarding potential changes in landscape practices for the conservation of bat species.
- Masters Theses