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Bat use of a high-plains urban wildlife refuge

January 1, 2001

Bats are significant components of mammalian diversity and in many areas are of management concern. However, little attention has been given to bats in urban or prairie landscapes. In 1997 and 1998, we determined species richness, relative abundance, roosting habits, and echolocation activity of bats at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMA), the largest urban unit in the United States refuge system, located on the high plains near Denver, Colorado. An inventory using mist nets revealed 3 species foraging at this site: big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus), and silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans). Big brown bats comprised 86% of captures (n=176). This pattern was consistent with continental-scale predictions of bat species richness and evenness based on availability of potential roosts. Relative abundance based on captures was similar to that revealed by echolocation detector surveys, except that the latter revealed the likely presence of at least 2 additional species (Myotis spp. and red bats [Lasiurus borealis]). Echolocation activity was significantly greater (P=0.009) in areas with tree or water habitat edges than in open prairie, suggesting that maintaining such features is important for bats. Big brown bats commuted greater distances (9.2-18.8 km) from roosts in urban core areas to foraging sites on the refuge than typically reported for this species elsewhere, emphasizing the value of the site to these bats. Urban refuges can provide habitat of importance to bat populations, but may be characterized by abundant bats that roost in buildings if a variety of other kinds of roosting habitats are unavailable.

Publication Year 2001
Title Bat use of a high-plains urban wildlife refuge
Authors A. L. Everette, T. J. O'Shea, L.E. Ellison, L.A. Stone, J.L. McCance
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Society Bulletin
Index ID 1015150
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center