Foraging Area Size and Habitat Use by Red Bats (Lasiurus Borealis) in an Intensively Managed Pine Landscape in Mississippi

By Elmore, Leslie W.; Miller, Darren A. et al. | The American Midland Naturalist, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Foraging Area Size and Habitat Use by Red Bats (Lasiurus Borealis) in an Intensively Managed Pine Landscape in Mississippi


Elmore, Leslie W., Miller, Darren A., Vilella, Francisco J., The American Midland Naturalist


ABSTRACT.-

Forest managers are increasingly expected to incorporate biodiversity objectives within forest landscapes devoted to timber production. However, reliable data on which to base management recommendations for bats within these systems are extremely limited. Although the red bat (Lasiurus borealis) is a widespread common species in temperate forests of North America, little is known of its ecology within intensively managed pine (Pinus spp.) forests of the southeastern United States. Therefore, we investigated size of foraging areas and habitat use by red bats during summer 2000 and 2001 in an intensively managed pine landscape in east-central Mississippi, USA. We captured bats using four-tier mist nets placed over water and attached radiotransmitters to red bats. Radiotagged red bats (n = 16) used habitat types randomly at the study area and foraging area scale. Mean size of foraging areas and mean maximum distance traveled between diurnal roosts and foraging locations were not different (P < 0.05) among adult male, adult female, juvenile male or juvenile females (n = 18). Most foraging areas contained a reliable source of water and all but one diurnal roost was located within foraging areas. Location of diurnal roosts may dictate location of foraging areas. Open canopy conditions in intensively managed pine stands (young, open canopy stands, thinned stands and riparian hardwood stands) likely provide appropriate foraging habitat for red bats. Landscape context may influence size of foraging areas and commuting distances of red bats. Provision of appropriate aged forest stands for diurnal roosts may be the best management action for red bats within intensively managed pine landscapes.

INTRODUCTION

Within the southeastern United States, intensively managed pine (Pinus spp.) forests are a primary forest type with total area of these forests expected to increase from 12.9 million ha in 1999 to 21.8 million ha in 2040 (Wear and Greis, 2002). Although intensively managed forests can support a diversity of wildlife species (e.g., Perkins et al., 1988; Wigley et al., 2000; Wilson and Watts, 2000), little information is available regarding bat communities within these landscapes (Campbell et al., 1996; Miller, 2003). Bats are an important component of forested ecosystems that are likely affected by forest management (e.g., Campbell et al., 1996; Krusic and Neefus, 1996; Morrell et al., 1999). As forest managers are increasingly being asked to consider biodiversity (American Forest and Paper Association, 2002), reliable data on suitability of managed forests for wildlife species, including bats, are needed (Miller et al., 2003). Although research on habitat relations of bats in managed forests has been conducted (Thomas, 1988; Erickson and West, 1996; Hayes and Adam, 1996; Grindal and Brigham, 1999; Humes et al., 1999; Jung et al., 1999), such data are limited for the southeastern United States in general and managed pine landscapes in particular.

Although red bats (Lasiurus borealis) are one of the most common and widely distributed bat species in North America (Barbour and Davis, 1969; Shump and Shump, 1982), quantitative data on size of foraging areas and habitat use are limited. Furlonger et al. (1987) found that red bats in southwest Ontario were active over terrestrial habitats (e.g., fields and forests) significantly more than over water habitats (e.g., ponds and streams). However, in Kentucky, Hutchinson and Lacki (1999) determined red bats in mixed mesophytic forests foraged over water more than expected. In the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, red bats were most active over water, but within forests, their activity did not differ between hardwood and softwood habitats (Krusic and Neefus, 1996). Carter (1998), working in South Carolina, documented size of foraging areas and habitat use of red bats within a landscape that had 27% of the study area in pine forest. He found red bats most often used bottomland hardwood stands followed by pine stands, with bottomland hardwoods preferred over upland hardwoods. …

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