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Habitat use in the female Alpine long-eared bat (Plecotus macrobullaris): does breeding make the difference?

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Recent discoveries of several new cryptic bat species in Europe, as well as the growing concerns on bat conservation, have resulted in increased efforts to study roost site selection, habitat use and spacing/foraging behaviour. For many of these cryptic species, management is problematic due to the lack of information. We present data on space and habitat use of 14 radio-tagged Plecotus macrobullaris females from a nursery in the central part of the species' distribution. They used home ranges larger than 10 km2, and the behavioural pattern was typically a first foraging bout soon after emergence from the nursery, followed by fast non-foraging flight towards selected habitat types. Habitat selection, as evaluated by K-select analysis, is non-random with preference for ecotones at woodland borders and rural areas, whereas woods are avoided. Body condition differentially affects habitat use for breeding and non-breeding females: breeding females in good condition showed a strong preference for ecotones. Among non-breeding females, the preference for ecotones varied with body condition. Being the sibling species of P. auritus, which is considered a woodland bat, the selection pattern observed for P. macrobullaris raises some questions about the possible niche partition in cases of sympatry.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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