Home Range and Habitat Use of Male Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bats (Corynorhinus Rafinesquii)

By Menzel, Michael A.; Menzel, Jennifer M. et al. | The American Midland Naturalist, April 2001 | Go to article overview

Home Range and Habitat Use of Male Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bats (Corynorhinus Rafinesquii)


Menzel, Michael A., Menzel, Jennifer M., Ford, W. Mark, Edwards, John W., et al., The American Midland Naturalist


ABSTRACT.--We examined home range size and habitat use of four reproductively active male Rafinesque's big-eared bats (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) in an area of the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina during August and September 1999. Corynorhinus rafinesquii had biphasic activity patterns, with most foraging activity occurring during the first 4 h after sunset and 2 h before sunrise. Mean home range size calculated using the adaptive kernel method with a 95% use distribution was 93.1 ha. Although large contiguous tracts of mature bottomland hardwoods were common in the study area, most foraging activity occurred in young pine stands. Only 9% of foraging areas were in bottomland hardwoods.

INTRODUCTION

Rafinesque's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) is distributed from southeastern Virginia, south along the Atlantic Coast into Florida and west into Oklahoma and east Texas (Jones, 1977). In the Coastal Plain, C. rafinesquii foraging habitat includes pine flatwoods (Pinus spp.) in Florida (Brown and Brown, 1993) and bottomland hardwoods in the Carolinas (Clark, 1991). In the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky, Hurst and Lacki (1999) found that C. rafinesquii selectively foraged in oak-hickory stands (Quercus spp., Carya spp.) and avoided stands of yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and beech-maple (Fagus grandifolia, Acer spp.). Using the minimum convex polygon method they reported an average home range size of 160.6 ha (range 61.6-225.3 ha).

Little was known about the natural history of Corynorhinus rafinesquii (Barbour and Davis, 1969; Lowery, 1974), a previously listed Federal Category 2 candidate species (Federal Register Vol. 50, No. 181, p. 37,965). However, recent studies have provided information concerning the roosting and foraging ecology of the species (Clark, 1990; England et al., 1990; Clark, 1991; Brown and Brown, 1993; Hurst and Lacki, 1997, 1999). Despite this new information, no study has examined home range size or habitat use by C. rafinesquii in southeastern upland pine stands. We surveyed abandoned structures in upland pine stands during late summer and found that >80% of suitable structures were inhabited by C. rafinesquii, suggesting that this species may be more common than once thought in this habitat. It is likely that the roosting and foraging ecology of C. rafinesquii is more influenced by forest management practices in pine stands than in lightly managed bottomland hardwoods. Accordingly, information is needed about home range size and habitat selection of C. rafinesquii in southeastern upland pine communities to better understand the impact of forest management on this species. Our specific study objectives were to determine the home range size and foraging habitat use of reproductively active male C. rafinesquii roosting in southeastern upland pine stands during the late summer.

METHODS

The study was conducted between 27 August and 25 September 1999 on the Silver Bluff Plantation in the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina (Aiken Co.). Silver Bluff is a 1057-ha plantation owned and managed by the National Audubon Society for conservation purposes. Almost half (44%) of the area consists of pine plantations managed for sawtimber production. Most plantations consist of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Plantations of slash pine (P elliottii), longleaf pine (P palustris) and natural stands of longleaf pine also occur. Other vegetation communities include pine/mixed hardwoods (21%) and bottomland hardwoods (16%). Loblolly pine, water oak (Quercus nigra), red maple (Acer rubrum) and sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua) dominate the pine/mixed hardwood stands. Bottomland hardwood communities include laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), cherrybark oak (Q. pagodaefolia), American elm (Ulmus americanus) and sweetgum. Field and aquatic habitats occupy 15% and 4% of the area, respectively. Our geographic information system (GIS) of Silver Bluff Plantation included ten habitats based on vegetation and stand age. …

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