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The depth of edge influence among insectivorous bats at forest–field interfaces

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Species-specific variations in wing morphology and echolocation call characteristics often define which of three structural habitat types (open, cluttered, and edge) different bat species most frequently and efficiently use for foraging. Although edges are recognized as important habitats for commuting and foraging bats, no study to date has examined the depth of edge influence (DEI), the extent of quantitative changes in activity with distance from an edge, for any bat species. We focused our study on five species: northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis (Trouessart, 1897); hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus (Beauvois, 1796); little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus (LeConte, 1831); silver-haired bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans (LeConte, 1831); big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus (Beauvois, 1796). We predicted DEI would vary with species-specific differences in wing morphology and echolocation call characteristics. From June to August in 2010 and 2011, we passively recorded echolocation calls three to four times per month at eight sites in eastern Ontario, Canada. We found that species’ activity was highest at the edge, regardless of wing morphology and echolocation call characteristics. The DEI for all species was approximately 40 m into both forests and fields. Understanding the effects of DEI on bats will enable more effective acoustic monitoring in future studies and may provide crucial information for management decisions.

Keywords: Vespertilionidae; acoustic monitoring; activité des chauves-souris; bat activity; ecomorphology; edge effects; effet de lisière; habitat use; surveillance acoustique; utilisation de l’habitat; vespertilionidés; écomorphologie

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-03-12

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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