Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) foraging over native and vineyard habitats in British Columbia, Canada
Abstract:Optimal foraging theory predicts organisms will forage in habitats providing the most profitable prey. Human alterations to ecosystems may affect predators’ foraging activity by changing landscape features, prey types, and prey availability. Assessing the selection of foraging habitats in a heterogeneous landscape can provide data to improve land management and conservation policies. In Canada, the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus (LeConte, 1856); Vespertilionidae) is listed as threatened partly because of loss or modification of shrub–steppe habitat. Our purpose was to determine if vineyards provide a suitable surrogate for foraging habitat relative to native habitat. We used pitfall traps to compare prey abundance in each habitat and analyzed faeces to assess diet composition. Over 24 nights, we surveyed both habitats for foraging bats. Bats foraged over vineyards, but we recorded significantly more foraging activity over native habitat. We collected over 2000 arthropods in pitfall traps and found significantly more in native habitat compared with vineyards. Species eaten by pallid bats were present in both habitats. Scarab beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabidae) and Jerusalem crickets (Orthopthera: Stenopelmatidae) represented the principal prey. The use of vineyards by pallid bats for foraging suggests that while they are adapting to a changing landscape, reduced prey abundance in vineyards may negatively affect them over the long term.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 30, 2011
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