Title

Interspecific differences and commonalities in maternity roosting by tree cavity-roosting bats over a maternity season in a timber production landscape

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Rueegger, N, Law, B & Goldingay, R 2018, 'Interspecific differences and commonalities in maternity roosting by tree cavity-roosting bats over a maternity season in a timber production landscape', PLoS One, vol. 13, no. 3.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Understanding maternity roost requirements is fundamental to guide timber production forest management given such roosts are vital to sustain bat populations. We tracked lactating females of three tree cavity-roosting species: Gould's long-eared bat (Nyctophilus gouldi) (n = 7), eastern broad-nosed bat (Scotorepens orion) (n = 6) and little forest bat (Vespadelus vulturnus) (n = 25), over five weeks in young (predominatelyold) forest regenerating from heavy timber harvest in southeast Australia. We aimed to investigate interspecific maternity roost selection in a regenerating landscape and by doing so, increase our understanding of the three species' roost ecology. Sixteen V. vulturnus, 15 N. gouldi and six S. orion unique maternity roost trees were located. Bats displayed a degree of maternity roost selection plasticity, however, interspecific differences were found. Nyctophilus gouldi roosted selectively in retained riparian buffers, in trees of high senescence and switched roosts every day. Vespadelus vulturnus roosted in logged areas and displayed high roost site fidelity, with one roost used for 33 consecutive days. Scotorepens orion selected large live trees of low senescence. The preliminary data for this species suggests that females roost most days in 'primary' roosts but display a roost switching behaviour conforming to the fission-fusion model. Dead trees were identified to be important for both N. gouldi and V. vulturnus. Historical and recent logging at our study area drastically reduced cavity-bearing tree density to 1.4 trees per hectare in the logging zones (outside of exclusion areas), potentially limiting local populations of tree cavity-roosting bats and other cavity-dependent wildlife. Our data demonstrate that forest management must consider a range of maternity roost requirements to accommodate differences among species and highlight the importance of exclusion areas for roost habitat. We propose that an expanded 'retention forestry' approach should be implemented in logged areas that includes in-perpetuity forest patch retention to increase habitat complexity and continuity.

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