How do bats use landscapes around hibernaculum?
Being active at night makes bats elusive and difficult to appreciate, but they provide important ecosystem services to the public. Every spring and fall, cave bats travel to and from their winter hibernacula. During spring emergence, bats disperse throughout the surrounding landscape seeking food, water, and shelter prior to moving to maternity colonies, a critical time for populations recovering from white-nose syndrome. These same landscapes are used during fall swarm, when bats from many surrounding colonies converge to a single hibernacula, believed to be a major mating season for many hibernating bats. Bats conduct repeated flights into, out of, and around the hibernaculum entrance establishing day roosts in surrounding landscapes until hibernation. But little attention has focused on how bats use these landscapes through these major life events. Forest Service researchers completed fieldwork using ultrasonic acoustic monitoring to investigate bat activity patterns in landscapes surrounding a hibernacula on the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan. Preliminary results indicate directionality in movement in relation to major landscape features such as ridgeways and some waterways that appear to be important commuting pathways during both events. Bat activity appears to be longer during spring emergence than fall swarm, when activity ceased over a week. Results will inform forest managers on the temporal and spatial use of a landscape that plays a key role in bat management and conservation.
Forest Service Partners