Forest roads used by commuting and foraging bats in edge and interior zones
We hypothesized that the flight activity of bats in forests is higher in parts closer to edges due to the presence of species roosting in trees and foraging mostly outside as well as those coming to forage from outside. The aim of our study was to test this expectation using bat netting on roads in a forest belt 4–5 km wide in Kampinos National Park near Warsaw (central Poland). Tree stands were mostly coniferous. Ten full-night study sessions were done between the end of July and the beginning of September in the years 2007–2009. During each session, bats were netted at two sites situated in two zones designated as “edge” (100– 500 m from forest edge) and “interior” (1750–2250 m from forest edge). The study revealed twelve species, among which Eptesicus serotinus (Schreber), Nyctalus noctula (Schreber) and Barbastella barbastellus (Schreber) were by far most abundant. Total bat abundance recorded at ten pairs of netting sites differed significantly between the edge zone (ca. 2.5 times higher numbers) and the interior zone. Among individual species, a statistically important difference was shown only for Plecotus auritus (L.), which was more abundant close to the forest edge, though a similar tendency was noted in other species, mostly E. serotinus. The frequency of each species in the bat assemblage as well as species diversity of bats flying along forest roads did not differ between the two zones.
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