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Roost selection by non-breeding Leisler's bats (Nyctalus leisleri) in montane woodlands: implications for habitat management

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Abstract:

We investigated roost selection by Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri) before and after hibernation in 2005 in a mountain area of southern Switzerland. The study area is dominated by deciduous trees and characterised by the presence of previously managed chestnut (Castanea sativa) orchards that are now partly abandoned. In March–May and August–October, 15 radio-tracked bats (seven males and eight females) used 28 roost trees. We analysed roosts used by N. leisleri at three different levels: (i) micro-scale: features of roost cavities; (ii) meso-scale: characteristics of selected roost trees and (iii) macro-scale: structure of woodland surrounding roost trees. Selection at meso and macro-scales was obtained comparing characteristics of roost trees and surrounding woodland with potentially available trees and woodlands. Bats roosted mainly in live chestnut trees, with large diameter and absence of vegetation near the entrance. Roost trees were located closer to streams, in woodlands with a higher percentage of sweet chestnut trees and a lower tree density than random trees. Multifunctional forest management in abandoned chestnut stands, comprising recreation (chestnut harvesting) and preservation of a semi-natural habitat and its related biodiversity, would recreate the traditional woodland features – in particular an open forest structure with low tree density and presence of ancient chestnut trees – and provide suitable roosting sites to migratory N. leisleri.

Keywords: CHESTNUT STANDS; FOREST COMPOSITION; NYCTALUS LEISLERI; ROOST SELECTION; SWITZERLAND

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3161/150811008X331117

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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