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Natterer's bats prefer foraging in broad-leaved woodlands and river corridors

Authors


  • Editor: Gunther Zupanc

Correspondence
Paul A. Racey, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK.
Email: p.racey@abdn.ac.uk

Abstract

We studied habitat selection by radio tracking Natterer's bats Myotis nattereri foraging in a grassland–woodland landscape. We tested the hypothesis that selection of foraging habitat is random at two levels: firstly, the selection of individual foraging ranges and secondly, the choice of foraging habitats made by individuals within these foraging ranges. Habitat selection was random at neither level. When selecting foraging ranges, bats maximized the area of semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and improved grassland and minimized that of dense coniferous plantations. During foraging, semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and river corridors were preferred, while dense coniferous plantations were avoided. Within individual foraging ranges, the intensity of foraging activity over river corridor habitat and semi-natural broad-leaved woodland was 8.2 and 3.8 times higher, respectively, than that over improved grassland. For successful management of Natterer's bat populations, semi-natural broad-leaved woodland should be retained. Clear felling of large blocks of native broad-leaved woodland should be avoided and conifers should not be used for reforestation. Tree cover along river banks should be encouraged and protected.

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