Roosting and foraging behaviour of Natterer's bats (Myotis nattereri) close to the northern border of their distribution

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Abstract

Seven nursery roosts and four roosts of male Myotis nattereri, Kuhl 1818 were found in central Scotland at latitude 56–57 d̀N. Most were in crevices in the stonework of man-made structures other than occupied houses. Emergence occurred late in the evening, at an average light intensity of 3.5 lux and emerging bats circled in dark, sheltered areas outside roosts before departing along flyways towards foraging areas. Individuals departed from, and returned to, roosts in groups of 2-6, and circling behaviour was repeated on returning to the roost. During pregnancy, bats from anursery roost made one flight each per night. This increased to an average maximum of 1.84 early in lactation and then decreased again to one around weaning. Night roosts were situated in foraging areas and were used by M. nattereri for resting and grooming, for suckling volant but incompletely weaned young and also, possibly, for information transfer. Important foraging habitats were woodland edges, parkland, roadside vegetation and sheltered areas of water. Arthropod prey was captured both on the wing and by gleaning from foliage, and the bats were able to vary their diet according to arthropod availability. Overall, important prey included Diptera (both Nematocera and higher flies), Trichoptera, Coleoptera and non-flying groups such as Hemiptera, Dermaptera, Arachnida and Opiliones.

Ancillary