Roost selection by male northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) in a managed fire-adapted forest
journal contributionposted on 2019-05-01, 00:00 authored by Jesse Alston, Ian Abernethy, Douglas Keinath, Jacob Goheen
Wildlife conservation in multi-use landscapes requires identifying and conserving critical resources that may otherwise be destroyed or degraded by human activity. Summer day-roost sites are critical resources for bats, so conserving roost sites is a focus of many bat conservation plans. Studies quantifying day-roost characteristics typically focus on female bats due to their much stronger influence on reproductive success, but large areas of species’ ranges can be occupied predominantly by male bats due to sexual segregation. We used VHF telemetry to identify and characterize summer day-roost selection by male northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest in South Dakota, USA. We tracked 18 bats to 43 tree roosts and used an information-theoretic approach to determine the relative importance of tree- and plot-level characteristics for roost site selection. Bats selected roost trees that were larger in diameter, more decayed, and under denser canopy than other trees available on the landscape. Much like studies of female northern long-eared bats have shown, protecting large-diameter snags within intact forest is important for the conservation of male northern long-eared bats. Unlike female-specific studies, however, many roosts in our study (39.5%) were located in short (≤3 m) snags. Protecting short snags may be a low-risk, high-reward strategy for conservation of resources important to male northern long-eared bats. Other tree-roosting bat species in fire-prone forests may benefit from forest management practices that promote these tree characteristics, particularly in high-elevation areas where populations largely consist of males.