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Home range use and habitat selection by barbastelle bats (Barbastella barbastellus): implications for conservation

Journal of Mammalogy

Abstract

We studied foraging behavior and habitat selection of barbastelle bats (Barhastella barhastellus) at two breeding colonies in southern England. In total, 28 adult female bats were radiotracked to determine home range use, habitat preferences, and patterns of nocturnal activity. Individual home ranges varied considerably, with bats traveling between 1 and 20 km to reach foraging areas ((X) over bar = 6.8 km +/- 4.8 SD). Nonreproductive females foraged at greater distances than reproductive females, providing evidence of state-dependent foraging behavior. Commutes were typically rapid and direct and bats moved freely across large open areas. Individual bats foraged independently from one another and were highly faithful to their respective core foraging areas, which formed just a small fraction of home ranges. Riparian zones and broad-leaved woodland were habitats most strongly selected for foraging. Unimproved grassland and field margins were also important components of the foraging environment. Bats night-roosted only occasionally and for short periods. Conservation efforts for B. barbastellus should target the protection and enhancement of preferred foraging habitats within 7 km of roost sites. Linear landscape elements such as tree lines and hedgerows should be managed to improve their value to foraging bats and to enhance connectivity with roost sites.

Author(s): Zeale, MRK; Davidson-Watts, I; Jones, G

Journal: Journal of Mammalogy

Year: 2012

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