Effects of Forest Management Practices on Bat Habitat and Community Structure

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (3 June 2022) | Viewed by 21321

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC, USA
Interests: bat ecology and conservation; effects of forest management on bats; bat monitoring; white-nose syndrome

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC, USA
Interests: forest management and bats; effects of climate change on bats; bat ecology and distributions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Bat populations throughout the world are declining due to multiple factors including disease, habitat loss and fragmentation, wind energy development, agricultural expansion, hunting and collection, human disturbance of roosts, urban development, and climate change. Most bats use forests or woodlands for part or all of their life cycle. Human communities throughout the world also depend on forests for their many products ranging from timber, to food, to material for handicrafts. Thus, forest management practices that meet the needs of bats and humans are required for long-term sustainability of both. Studies examining the effects of forest management practices have been increasing since the 1980s, but there are still many questions left unanswered. This Special Issue of Forests will focus on studies that examine the effects of forest management practices at the stand- (e.g., harvesting, prescribed fire, thinning, gap formation) and landscape-scale (e.g., silviculture systems) on bats around the world. We invite papers that focus on a variety of bat responses (e.g., foraging, roosting, demographic, physiological, community structure) that utilize field experiments as well as models of long-term effects of forest management across large landscapes and reviews of bat responses to certain silvicultural methods (e.g., harvest gap size, thinning).

Dr. Susan C. Loeb
Dr. Roger W. Perry
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • bats
  • Chiroptera
  • forest management
  • silviculture
  • prescribed fire
  • thinning
  • harvesting
  • roosts
  • foraging

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

25 pages, 5862 KiB  
Article
Bat Assemblages Are Shaped by Land Cover Types and Forest Age: A Case Study from Eastern Ukraine
by Anton Vlaschenko, Kseniia Kravchenko, Yehor Yatsiuk, Vitalii Hukov, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt and Viktoriia Radchuk
Forests 2022, 13(10), 1732; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13101732 - 20 Oct 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2320
Abstract
Eastern European broadleaved forests north of the 50th degree of latitude serve as a core breeding area for most migratory bat species wintering in Eastern and Central Europe. The southern border of this region has faced an increase in clear-cutting intensity in recent [...] Read more.
Eastern European broadleaved forests north of the 50th degree of latitude serve as a core breeding area for most migratory bat species wintering in Eastern and Central Europe. The southern border of this region has faced an increase in clear-cutting intensity in recent decades. We conducted a standardized mist-netting survey on eleven heterogeneous oak forest plots in order to assess how land cover types and forest age affect abundance, diversity and the breeding of bats. We found that abundance indices and species richness increased from upland plots surrounded by agricultural lands to riverine or waterside plots with high forest cover. Particularly large mature forests older than 90 years positively affected the breeding activity of bats, their abundance indices and overall species richness. Regarding species associations with specific habitats, we found that Myotis brandtii, Nyctalus leisleri and Pipistrellus pygmaeus were mainly found in mature deciduous forest stands, while Plecotus auritus appeared to be the only species tolerating clearcuts and young stands. Forest-dwelling species such as Nyctalus noctula and Pipistrellus nathusii were additionally associated with water habitats. Thus, the combination of mature forests and water sources is essential in shaping Eastern European assemblages of forest bat species. Full article
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15 pages, 2158 KiB  
Article
Insectivorous Bats in Eastern Mediterranean Planted Pine Forests—Effects of Forest Structure on Foraging Activity, Diversity, and Implications for Management Practices
by Claudia Allegrini, Carmi Korine and Boris R. Krasnov
Forests 2022, 13(9), 1411; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13091411 - 2 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1453
Abstract
Bats are primarily forest mammals and forest structure may affect their communities through the level of vegetation clutter. Pine plantations are typically even-aged managed forests that lack structural complexity. However, an understory layer can enhance the heterogeneity of these forests, making them suitable [...] Read more.
Bats are primarily forest mammals and forest structure may affect their communities through the level of vegetation clutter. Pine plantations are typically even-aged managed forests that lack structural complexity. However, an understory layer can enhance the heterogeneity of these forests, making them suitable for several animal taxa. We hypothesized that species composition, richness, and foraging activity of insectivorous bats in pine plantations vary according to forest structure, specifically with the density of the understory. We measured pine density, Diameter at Breast Height (DBH), canopy closure, and vegetation cover of 29 pine (Pinus halepensis) plantations of the Judean Lowlands, Israel, and collected acoustic data on resident bats. We found that bat species richness and total activity increased in forests with large tree DBH and dense shrubs. Cluttered-habitat species foraged preferentially in forests with large tree DBH and high pine density, while open-habitat species preferred forests with well-developed canopies and dense shrubs. Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Eptesicus serotinus foraged in mature forests with well-developed bushes and these species are endangered in Israel. We conclude that mature planted pine forests with a well-developed under-canopy are suitable foraging grounds for insectivorous bats. Management plans for planted pine forests should consider our findings to support bat populations, including rare and endangered species. Full article
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15 pages, 3926 KiB  
Article
Roost Selection in Relation to a Patchy, Mosaic Management Burn by a Threatened Clutter-Adapted Bat
by Leroy Gonsalves, Brad Law, Traecey Brassil, Isobel Kerr and Christopher O’Loughlin
Forests 2022, 13(8), 1327; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13081327 - 19 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1789
Abstract
Fire is a major disturbance for forests and its impacts can be complex, influenced by a range of factors including fire severity and frequency. Changes to global climate have increased the frequency and lengthened the window for wildfires. Anthropogenic fires are now commonly [...] Read more.
Fire is a major disturbance for forests and its impacts can be complex, influenced by a range of factors including fire severity and frequency. Changes to global climate have increased the frequency and lengthened the window for wildfires. Anthropogenic fires are now commonly used to try to mitigate the risk and spread of wildfires or for ecological purposes, yet it is unclear how many flora and fauna species respond to this lower severity and more patchily distributed treatment. We assessed day-roost selection by a threatened narrow space bat, Nyctophilus corbeni, after a management burn left a mosaic of unburnt forest, low severity (ground scorch) burnt and higher severity (midstorey to crown scorch) burnt forest. Radio-tracking was used to identify day-roosts of 11 individuals (8 lactating females and 3 males) during the maternity season. Characteristics of day-roost trees (n = 42 trees) were similar for males and lactating females and were comparable to other day-roosts used elsewhere in the broader study area, with bats selecting moderately sized (23–24 cm dbhob) dead buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) with hollows. However, roost selection at the scale of the neighborhood varied by sex and was random for lactating females. Selection of the post-burn mosaic by males was non-random at all scales of assessment greater than a 100 m neighborhood, with bats selecting areas burnt by low-severity fire at these scales, but avoiding areas of higher severity fire. Locally, there were ~14 more hollow trees per ha surrounding roosts in areas burnt by low severity fire than in the unburnt forest, whereas forest burnt by higher severity fire had on average ~8 fewer hollow trees per hectare. Our study confirmed that dead buloke with hollows is a key resource for N. corbeni that should be prioritized for retention, particularly when identifying areas to offset habitat loss. Patchy management fires appear to be compatible with roosting habits of breeding N. corbeni, provided hollow resources are not impacted by fire. Management burns may promote roosting habitat for male bats, but areas of higher severity burns need to be minimized. Further research is needed to assess the use of the post-burn mosaic for nightly movements, including foraging. The effects of repeated burning on hollow availability and roost selection by N. corbeni should be investigated to identify suitable intervals between fires for this threatened species. Full article
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19 pages, 1388 KiB  
Article
Habitat Associations of Overwintering Bats in Managed Pine Forest Landscapes
by Brett R. Andersen, Liam P. McGuire, Thomas Bently Wigley, Darren A. Miller and Richard D. Stevens
Forests 2022, 13(5), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13050803 - 20 May 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2632
Abstract
Research Highlights: Seasonal variation in environmental conditions coinciding with reproductive and energetic demands might result in seasonal differences in species-specific habitat use. We studied a winter assemblage of insectivorous bats and found that species acted as habitat generalists during winter compared to expectations [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Seasonal variation in environmental conditions coinciding with reproductive and energetic demands might result in seasonal differences in species-specific habitat use. We studied a winter assemblage of insectivorous bats and found that species acted as habitat generalists during winter compared to expectations based on the summer active season. Background and Objectives: In temperate regions, seasonal fluctuations in resource availability might restructure local bat assemblages. Initially perceived to only hibernate or migrate to avoid adverse winter conditions, temperate insectivorous bats appear to also employ intermediate overwintering strategies, as a growing body of literature suggests that winter activity is quite prevalent and even common in some lower latitude areas. However, to date, most studies have exclusively assessed habitat associations during summer. Because habitat use during summer is strongly influenced by reproduction, we hypothesized that habitat associations might differ during the non-reproductive winter period. We used acoustic monitoring to assess the habitat associations of bats across a managed pine landscape in the southeastern United States. Materials and Methods: During the winters of 2018 and 2019, we deployed acoustic detectors at 72 unique locations to monitor bat activity and characterized vegetation conditions at two scales (microhabitat and landscape). We used linear mixed models to characterize species-specific activity patterns associated with different vegetation conditions. Results: We found little evidence of different activity patterns during winter. The activity of three species (hoary bat: Lasiurus cinereus; southeastern myotis: Myotis austroriparius; and tricolored bat: Perimyotis subflavus) was not related to vegetation variables and only modest relationships were evident for four other species/groups (big brown bat: Eptesicus fuscus; eastern red bat: L. borealis; Seminole bat: L. seminolus; evening bat: Nycticeius humeralis; and Brazilian free-tailed bat: Tadarida brasiliensis). Conclusions: During winter, the bats in our study were active across the landscape in various cover types, suggesting that they do not exhibit the same habitat associations as in summer. Therefore, seasonal differences in distributions and habitat associations of bat populations need to be considered so that effective management strategies can be devised that help conserve bats year round. Full article
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12 pages, 2058 KiB  
Article
Unique Land Cover Classification to Assess Day-Roost Habitat Selection of Northern Long-Eared Bats on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, USA
by Jesse L. De La Cruz, Michael C. True, Hila Taylor, Dorothy C. Brown and W. Mark Ford
Forests 2022, 13(5), 792; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13050792 - 19 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2139
Abstract
Reproductively successful and over-wintering populations of the endangered northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) have recently been discovered on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Empirical data on resource selection within the region is limited, likely hindering management of these coastal forests. [...] Read more.
Reproductively successful and over-wintering populations of the endangered northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) have recently been discovered on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Empirical data on resource selection within the region is limited, likely hindering management of these coastal forests. Our objectives were to determine roosting home range size, selection of day-roost tree species, second- and third-order roosting habitat selection, and to quantify the overall availability of resources in the surrounding landscape. We found core and peripheral roosting home range estimates were large, yet similar to observations from other areas of contiguous forests. Prior to juvenile volancy, female northern long-eared bats appear to select red maple (Acer rubrum), water ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) as day-roosts, but then use sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), swamp bay (Persea palustris), and water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) after juvenile volancy. At the second-order spatial scale, roosting home ranges were associated with woody wetlands farther from anthropogenic development and open water. However, within the third-order scale, northern long-eared bats were associated with undeveloped woody wetlands and upland forests, areas containing shorter trees and occurring proximal to open water. Peripheral and core areas were predicted to comprise approximately 20% of the local landscape. Our results show that complex and large tracts of woody wetlands juxtaposed with upland forests in this part of the Coastal Plain may be important for northern long-eared bats locally, results largely consistent with species management efforts in eastern North America. Full article
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9 pages, 4422 KiB  
Article
Tree Girdling for Potential Bat Roost Creation in Northwestern West Virginia
by Eric S. Schroder and Ryan L. Ward
Forests 2022, 13(2), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020274 - 8 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1874
Abstract
Cavity/crevice tree-roosting bats in North America face an uncertain future with many factors impacting their populations. To benefit crevice/cavity roosting bat species, forests are often enhanced with the use of tree girdling. In October 2015, 20 maples, 22 oaks, and 18 hickories were [...] Read more.
Cavity/crevice tree-roosting bats in North America face an uncertain future with many factors impacting their populations. To benefit crevice/cavity roosting bat species, forests are often enhanced with the use of tree girdling. In October 2015, 20 maples, 22 oaks, and 18 hickories were girdled using a method with fell cut and herbicide (frilling) or double-girdling with a chainsaw. From 2016–2021, targeted trees were observed and the tree’s decay state was collected. The average time for trees to display suitable roosting characteristics for frilling trees was 3.23 years while it was 4.46 years for double girdling. The average time frilling trees contained suitable roosting characteristics was 3.20 years while it was 1.63 years for double girdling. The frilling method resulted in a quicker kill of trees than double girdling and frilling trees had suitable roosting characteristics for a longer duration. Frilling was effective killing all three types of trees, while the double girdling was less effective, especially on oaks. When grouping species and treatment in analysis, only average decay states between maple frill and oak double girdling and hickory frill and oak double girdling were significantly different. This evaluation demonstrates that roost tree creation relating to tree species and girdling methodology has a temporal component that should be considered when managing for crevice/cavity bat roosts and multiple habitat creation methods should be used in conjunction with snag creation to provide sustainable bat habitat over longer time periods. Full article
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18 pages, 5019 KiB  
Article
Distribution, Dominance Structure, Species Richness, and Diversity of Bats in Disturbed and Undisturbed Temperate Mountain Forests
by Krzysztof Piksa, Tomasz Brzuskowski and Tomasz Zwijacz-Kozica
Forests 2022, 13(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13010056 - 3 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2241
Abstract
The increase in mean annual temperature and reduction in summer rainfall from climate change seem to increase the frequency of natural and human-made disturbances to forest vegetation. This type of rapid vegetation change also significantly affects bat diversity. The aim of our study [...] Read more.
The increase in mean annual temperature and reduction in summer rainfall from climate change seem to increase the frequency of natural and human-made disturbances to forest vegetation. This type of rapid vegetation change also significantly affects bat diversity. The aim of our study was to document differences in the ecological parameters of bat assemblages in different types of temperate mountain forests, particularly between disturbed and undisturbed coniferous and deciduous forests. Additionally, these issues were considered along an elevation gradient. We mist netted bats on 73 sites, between 931 and 1453 m elevation, in the forests of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland. During 2016–2020, 745 bats, representing 15 species, were caught. The most abundant were Myotis mystacinus (Kuhl, 1817) (53.0%) and M. brandtii (Eversmann, 1845) (21.5%). We observed differences in species diversity, elevational distribution, and dominance between different types of forests and forest zones. Species richness peaked at around 1000–1100 m elevation. The highest species richness and other indices were observed in undisturbed beech stands, although they constituted only about 2.7% of the forest area. The lowest species diversity was observed in disturbed coniferous forests, in both the lower and upper forest zone. The species richness and dominance structure of bat assemblages were also found to depend on the location above sea level. In some bat species, the sex ratio was higher at higher elevations, and differences in the sex ratio in a few bat species, between different types of forests, were observed. Our findings suggest that disturbed, beetle-killed spruce forests are an unsuitable environment for some bat species. Full article
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11 pages, 912 KiB  
Article
Winter Roosting by Eastern Red Bats in Ozark Mountain Forests of Missouri
by Joshua R. Flinn, Roger W. Perry and Lynn W. Robbins
Forests 2021, 12(12), 1769; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12121769 - 14 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2097
Abstract
The eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis Müller, 1776) is a widespread species that roosts in evergreen or dead foliage suspended in trees during winter but retreats to leaf litter during colder periods. Roosting in leaf litter by eastern red bats makes them [...] Read more.
The eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis Müller, 1776) is a widespread species that roosts in evergreen or dead foliage suspended in trees during winter but retreats to leaf litter during colder periods. Roosting in leaf litter by eastern red bats makes them vulnerable to prescribed fires in winter. Using radio telemetry, we tracked 33 male eastern red bats to 101 winter (November–February) roosts and quantified roost locations, habitat surrounding roosts, and landscape attributes of roost locations. When roosting in trees, bats preferred oaks but generally avoided other tree species; they used pines in proportion to their availability. During colder periods, bats retreated to roosts in leaf litter where 21% suffered mortality either from predation/scavenging or unknown causes while roosting on the ground. Models of roost selection indicated that southerly aspect was the most important factor determining roost selection, and both tree- and leaf-litter roosts were predominately (≥94%) on upper south-facing slopes. Prescribed burning in late morning/early afternoon on clear days when temperatures under leaf litter are warmest in winter could reduce potential mortality by allowing faster arousal time for hibernating bats. Full article
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13 pages, 7491 KiB  
Article
Eastern Red Bat Responses to Fire during Winter Torpor
by Jason T. Layne, Dana Green, Anna Scesny and Lynn W. Robbins
Forests 2021, 12(10), 1347; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101347 - 2 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2570
Abstract
Prescribed fires are a forest management tool used to improve natural areas for a variety of benefits including increased plant diversity, reduced competition for desired species, decreased fuel loads, and improved wildlife habitat. The post-fire results in landscapes have shown positive benefits for [...] Read more.
Prescribed fires are a forest management tool used to improve natural areas for a variety of benefits including increased plant diversity, reduced competition for desired species, decreased fuel loads, and improved wildlife habitat. The post-fire results in landscapes have shown positive benefits for bat populations. However, prescribed fires set in the winter may cause direct mortality of eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) populations that use leaf litter for roosting during periods of colder (<10 °C) temperatures. Therefore, we used controlled laboratory techniques to explore if eastern red bats arouse from torpor when exposed to cues associated with fire (i.e., smoke and the sound of fire). Through subsequent field trials, we confirmed latencies of first response (i.e., movement or increased respiration), arousal, and flight behaviors to the stimuli of fire. We provide evidence of smoke influencing eastern red bat first response and arousal through laboratory and field trial results. Latencies of all behaviors were negatively correlated with temperatures and wind speeds prior to and during field trials. We recommend prescribing winter fires on days when temperatures are >10 °C to provide eastern red bats with a better chance to passively rewarm and react to an approaching fire. Full article
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