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Bats not bothered by forest fires, study finds
Date:3/6/2013

ed forest. The study compared bat foraging activity in areas of unburned, moderately burned, and severely burned forest.

The researchers conducted surveys in 2003, using high-frequency microphones to record the ultrasonic echolocation pulses that bats use to hunt insects. Of the 16 bat species known to live in the area, some have distinctive sonic signatures, while others can be sorted into groups with similar echolocation sounds and foraging behaviors. In this study, the researchers identified six "phonic groups," including three individual species and three groups of species.

The results showed that the responses of the six phonic groups to moderate and high-severity fire were either neutral or positive. The heterogeneity such fires create in the landscape may be an important feature, resulting in a habitat structure that benefits a range of species, Frick said.

"Bats could be resilient to this kind of natural disturbance," she said. "We go out there and see a charred landscape and we think it's totally destroyed, but the bats may find it a productive habitat for their needs."

Some species seem to prefer burned areas for foraging. This could be due to reduced clutter and increased availability of prey and roosts after a fire, although further research on these topics is needed, according to coauthor Michael Buchalski, a doctoral student at Western Michigan University. "Fire may provide a pulse of insects immediately after the fire and create roosting habitat later on as snags decay and their bark peels back," he said.


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Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

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