Effects of Hierarchical Roost Removal on Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) Maternity Colonies
Ford, W. Mark
Britzke, Eric R.
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Forest roosting bats use a variety of ephemeral roosts such as snags and declining live trees. Although conservation of summer maternity habitat is considered critical for forest-roosting bats, bat response to roost loss still is poorly understood. To address this, we monitored 3 northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) maternity colonies on Fort Knox Military Reservation, Kentucky, USA, before and after targeted roost removal during the dormant season when bats were hibernating in caves. We used 2 treatments: removal of a single highly used (primary) roost and removal of 24% of less used (secondary) roosts, and an un-manipulated control. Neither treatment altered the number of roosts used by individual bats, but secondary roost removal doubled the distances moved between sequentially used roosts. However, overall space use by and location of colonies was similar pre- and post-treatment. Patterns of roost use before and after removal treatments also were similar but bats maintained closer social connections after our treatments. Roost height, diameter at breast height, percent canopy openness, and roost species composition were similar pre- and post-treatment. We detected differences in the distribution of roosts among decay stages and crown classes pre- and post-roost removal, but this may have been a result of temperature differences between treatment years. Our results suggest that loss of a primary roost or ≤ 20% of secondary roosts in the dormant season may not cause northern long-eared bats to abandon roosting areas or substantially alter some roosting behaviors in the following active season when tree-roosts are used. Critically, tolerance limits to roost loss may be dependent upon local forest conditions, and continued research on this topic will be necessary for conservation of the northern long-eared bat across its range. Data: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/50954