Canopy and edge activity of bats in a quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) forest

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Characteristics of edges affect the behavior of species that are active in and near edges. Forest canopies may provide edge-like habitat for bats, though bat response to edge orientation has not been well examined. We sampled bat activity in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) forest canopies and edges in Heber Valley, Utah, during summer 2009 using Anabat detectors. Categorization and regression tree (CART) analysis of echolocation characteristics (e.g., frequency, duration) identified two guilds based on characteristic frequency (i.e., high- and low-frequency guilds). We used linear regression to compare characteristics of canopy and edge vegetation (e.g., tree height, diameter at breast height) to bat activity levels. Activity levels of high-frequency bats did not respond differentially to edge vegetation; low-frequency bat activity seemed to respond to canopy height. Activity levels of high-frequency bats were significantly greater than low-frequency bats in both edges and canopies. We detected significantly more bat activity in forest edges than in forest canopies, indicating the importance of edges to bats in forests.
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