To restore and manage fire-adapted forest communities in the central Appalachians, USA, land managers are now increasingly prioritizing use of prescribed fire. However, it is unclear how the reintroduction of fire following decades of suppression will affect bat communities, particularly where white-nose syndrome-related population declines of many cave-hibernating bat species have occurred. To address this concern, we monitored and compared bat activity in burned and unburned habitat across a temporal gradient in western Virginia.
We found evidence for slightly positive fire effects on activity levels of the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis [Trouessart, 1897]), Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis [Miller and Allen, 1928]), little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus [Le Conte, 1831]), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus [Palisot de Beauvois, 1796])/silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans [Le Conte, 1831]) group, all high-frequency bats, and all bat species combined. We observed temporal effects only for the big brown bat, with a negative relationship between activity and time since fire.
Because response of bat activity was neutral to weakly positive relative to burned forest condition, our results suggest that bats are not a resource that would impede the use of this management tool in the central Appalachians.
|Title||Bat activity following repeated prescribed fire in the central Appalachians, USA|
|Authors||Lauren V. Austin, Alexander Silvis, Michael S. Muthersbaugh, Karen E. Powers, W. Mark Ford|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Fire Ecology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Coop Res Unit Leetown|