In times of land use changes towards more close-to-nature forestry, the application of bioindicators becomes an interesting tool for effective land-use management schemes. Forest managers are increasingly confronted by alien tree species. Therefore, this case study aimed to investigate the influence of the invasive black cherry (Prunus serotina
) on bats (Chiroptera: Verpertilionidae) in pine (Pinus sylvestris
) forest ecosystems, in order to identify the potential of bats as bioindicators for a black cherry invasion. In three pre-classified succession stages of the black cherry, the diversity and relative abundance of bats were bioacoustically monitored for a period of 60 nights. From the bat call recordings made during the study period, eight bat species could be identified to species level. Within the succession stages of pine monoculture and light black cherry forest, a comparable bat diversity of eight bat species and three sonotypes with a similar relative abundance were observed. In dense black cherry forest, only four species and one sonotype were detected. Compared to the pine monoculture and light black cherry forest, the overall abundance of the bat community was significantly lower in the dense black cherry forest. Upon evaluation, those bat species associated with the edge and narrow space forager guilds were found to have a high sensitivity to a dense black cherry understory within naturally monocultural pine stands. Their activity patterns indicate that the transition from light to dense black cherry understory can be considered as a potential threshold value for a close-to-nature black cherry understory density in high canopy pine forest stands.
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