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Resource selection by Indiana bats during the maternity season

Authors

  • Kathryn M. Womack,

    Corresponding author
    1. Fisheries and Wildlife Department, University of Missouri, 302 Natural Resource Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    • Fisheries and Wildlife Department, University of Missouri, 302 Natural Resource Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
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  • Sybill K. Amelon,

    1. Northern Research Station, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, 202 Natural Resource Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
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  • Frank R. Thompson III

    1. Northern Research Station, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, 202 Natural Resource Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Joshua Millspaugh

Abstract

Little information exists on resource selection by foraging Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) during the maternity season. Existing studies are based on modest sample sizes because of the rarity of this endangered species and the difficulty of radio-tracking bats. Our objectives were to determine resource selection by foraging Indiana bats during the maternity season and to compare resource use between pregnant and lactating individuals. We used an information theoretic approach with discrete choice modeling based on telemetry data to evaluate our hypotheses that land cover, percent canopy cover, distance to water, and prescribed fire affected the relative probability a point was used by a foraging Indiana bat. We fit models for individual bats and a population-level model based on all individuals with a random factor to account for differences in sample size among individuals. We radio-tracked 29 individuals and found variation in resource selection among individuals. However, among individuals with the same supported covariates, the magnitude and direction of the covariates were similar. Eighteen bats selected areas with greater canopy closure and 5 of 6 bats that had areas burned by low-intensity prescribed fire in their home range selected burned areas. Resource selection was related to land cover for 13 individuals; they selected forest and shrubland over agricultural land, which composed >50% of the landscape within 10 km. We found no support for our hypothesis that resource selection was related to individual reproductive condition or Julian date in our population-level model indicating habitat selection was not determined by reproductive status or date within the maternity season. Land use or forest management that greatly reduces canopy cover may have a negative impact on Indiana bat use. Maintaining forest cover in agricultural landscapes is likely critical to persistence of maternity colonies in these landscapes. Sites managed with low severity prescribed fire may be selected by some individuals because of reduced understory vegetation. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.

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