The use by bats of habitat features in mixed farmland in Scotland
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Most previous studies of the use bats make of their foraging areas have been concerned with general habitat preferences rather than with microhabitats. The present study focuses on microhabitat preference within three landscape features: linear landscape elements, ponds and rivers. The importance of linear landscape elements to bats was investigated by placing recording stations next to treelines, and others in adjacent open spaces approximately 35 m away. Most pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus and P. pygmaeus) bat activity was recorded next to treelines and very little over open spaces. Bats used treelines for both commuting and foraging, but flew closer to treelines when commuting than when foraging. More insects were caught, and more pipistrelle feeding attempts were recorded close to treelines than further away. The relationship between the number and type of landscape elements leading to and surrounding ponds, and the use pipistrelle and Daubenton's (Myotis daubentonii) bats make of such ponds, was similarly investigated. Bats preferred to commute to ponds along woodland edges and streams, and not along hedgerows. More bat activity was recorded over ponds that had little overhanging and surrounding vegetation in comparison to ponds that had more, and over large wide ponds in comparison to small narrow ones. The extent to which pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats' use of river corridors extends beyond the water body was also investigated. Bat activity decreased with increasing distance from rivers, up to a distance of 70 m. River sites which were wooded on both sides attracted more bat activity for a longer duration than sites which had no trees on either side. Pipistrelles made use of the wider river corridor whereas Daubenton's bats restricted their activity almost exclusively to the water body.
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