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Variation in Summer and Winter Microclimate in Multi-Chambered Bat Boxes in Eastern Australia: Potential Eco-Physiological Implications for Bats

School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
Environments 2019, 6(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6020013
Received: 9 December 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 25 January 2019 / Published: 28 January 2019
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Abstract

Bat boxes are commonly used as a conservation tool. Detailed knowledge on the influence of box elements on microclimate is lacking, despite eco-physiological implications for bats. Summer and winter box temperature and relative humidity patterns were studied in narrow multi-chambered plywood and wood-cement boxes in eastern Australia. Box exteriors were black or white and plywood boxes comprised vents. Relative humidity was higher in white boxes than black boxes and box colour, construction material, chamber sequence and vents influenced temperatures. Maximum box temperature differences between designs varied by up to 9.0 °C in summer and 8.5 °C in winter. The black plywood box consistently recorded the warmest temperatures. This design comprised a temperature gradient between chambers and within the front chamber (influenced by vent). During the 32-day summer sampling period, the front chamber rarely recorded temperatures over 40.0 °C (postulated upper thermal tolerance limit of bats), while the third and fourth chamber never reached this threshold. At the study site, the tested black boxes are considered most thermally suitable for bats during average summer conditions. However, during temperature extremes black boxes likely become too hot. Wood-cement, a durable material not previously tested in Australia should be considered as an alternative construction material. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial hollow; box humidity; box temperature; roost box; tree cavity-roosting bat artificial hollow; box humidity; box temperature; roost box; tree cavity-roosting bat
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Rueegger, N. Variation in Summer and Winter Microclimate in Multi-Chambered Bat Boxes in Eastern Australia: Potential Eco-Physiological Implications for Bats. Environments 2019, 6, 13.

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