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Bat activity following repeated prescribed fire in the central Appalachians, USA

December 27, 2018


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.

Publication Year 2018
Title Bat activity following repeated prescribed fire in the central Appalachians, USA
DOI 10.1186/s42408-018-0009-5
Authors Lauren V. Austin, Alexander Silvis, Michael S. Muthersbaugh, Karen E. Powers, W. Mark Ford
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Fire Ecology
Index ID 70227071
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown