Habitat and management effects on foraging activity of Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) in northern Missouri
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) uses fragmented forests in largely agricultural landscapes during the maternity season. Understanding how land use and land management affect bat activity and insect prey availability would provide insight into resource needs of Indiana bats. We had three main objectives, first to determine resource selection by foraging Indiana bats during the maternity season and to compare resource use among pregnant and lactating individuals. Second, we sought to estimate home range size using utilization distributions for individual Indiana bats. Finally, we wanted to determine if we could predict Indiana bat activity by using habitat, weather, and prey availability data within our study area. We used an information theoretic approach to examine a priori models for our first and third objective. To evaluate our second objective, we used telemetry data to calculate the area within 50% and 95% probability contours of utilization distributions estimated by the fixed kernel method. We found variation among individuals in resource selection and home range size. Indiana bat activity was higher in areas managed by prescribed fire and with high percent canopy cover, and at sites with higher dry insect biomass collected in malaise traps. We believe prescribed fire benefitted bats by reducing understory clutter. In contrast, forest management practices that greatly reduce canopy cover may have a negative impact on Indiana bats.
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