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Landscape Characteristics Related to Use of Artificial Roosts by Northern Long-Eared Bats in North-Central West Virginia

Cruz, Jesse L. De La, Ward, Ryan L., Schroder, Eric S.
Northeastern naturalist 2018 v.25 no.3 pp. 487-501
Myotis septentrionalis, animal manures, forests, landscapes, linear models, roosting behavior, solar radiation, streams, summer, wildlife, West Virginia
In the eastern US, research is needed on the establishment and evaluation of conservation measures for forest-dwelling bats, in general, and for the newly listed Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-Eared Bat), in particular. Our objectives were to evaluate the overall use of 3 artificial roosting structures—rocket box, nursery box, and artificial bark—by bats and to relate this use to local landscape characteristics in north-central West Virginia. We monitored 306 structures during summer 2016 and detected use (i.e., presence of guano, visual identification, capture of bats) at 132 (43%) roosts, of which 55 (42%) were confirmed, through capture or visual identification, to contain Northern Long-eared Bats. Nursery boxes were used more than expected based on availability (60%), but rocket boxes accounted for 40 (73%) of the roosts confirmed to be occupied by Northern Long-eared Bats, with 70% being used by maternity colonies of this species. We utilized binomial generalized linear models and an information theoretic approach to examine use of artificial roosts by maternity colonies of Northern Long-eared Bats. Our best-supported model differentiating structures occupied by maternity colonies from those that housed individual bats showed relationships to elevation, slope, area solar radiation, and distance to streams and large (>200 ha) forests. Our study provides initial guidance for land and wildlife managers on implementing an effective conservation and management technique for bats within this region.