Forest Ecology and Management, 259 (8), p.1633-1641, Mar 2010
RuczyDski, I. / Nicholls, B. / MacLeod, C.D. / Racey, P.A.
“Tree dwelling bats select cavities in large, old, dying or dead trees. This inevitably brings them into direct conflict with the interests of forest managers, who are trained to fell such trees. Therefore the identification of forest stands providing optimal roosting opportunities for bats is crucial, in order to provide appropriate guidelines for forest management. It is also important to identify the extent to which the roosting ecology of bats changes in response to habitat modification. Białowieża Forest (BF) offers a unique opportunity, in the temperate zone, to observe differences between areas with no direct human intervention and managed areas and in particular to reveal the effect of forest management on the roosting ecology of forest dwelling bat species. We used GIS techniques to evaluate bats’ spatial response to changes in forest structure and to test the hypotheses that the forest dwelling bats Nyctalus noctula and Nyctalus leisleri prefer roost sites within old deciduous or wet woodlands over young and coniferous ones and that roost site preferences reflect the extent to which dead and dying trees are removed. There was a significant difference in the selection of roosting habitat between the managed and pristine areas of the forest. Within the pristine forest, both species displayed a strong preference for roost trees located within old deciduous stands (>100 years), whereas in the managed part of the forest old wet woodland was preferred while all medium and young forest stands were avoided. Our data reveal a high degree of lability in the selection of roosting habitat by bats. It appears that bats are able to respond to changes in their environment by changing their roost site preferences and could therefore occupy habitat previously considered less suitable.”