Survey of bat communities at three national park areas in the central Appalachians of West Virginia
Schirmacher, Michael Richard
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During the summers of 2003 and 2004, I used a combination of live-capture and acoustic monitoring techniques to inventory the bat community and to model habitat associations for bat species in the Bluestone National Scenic River, Gauley River National Recreation Area, and New River Gorge National River, located in the central Appalachians of West Virginia. I live-captured 175 bats representing eight species: little brown bat (M. lucifugus), northern myotis (northern long-eared bat; Myotis septentrionalis), eastern small-footed myotis (M. leibii), silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and hoary bat (L. cinereus). Using ultrasonic acoustical detectors (Anabat II), I sampled 680 sites for 20 minutes throughout the three National Park Areas. I detected all species captured, and also recorded the presence of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) at 18 sites. Using logistic regression, I constructed predictive models of habitat associations based on presence and absence of species using ultrasonic detectors. In addition, I evaluated a priori models using Akaike’s Information Criteria. My species-specific habitat models demonstrated that habitat use could be predicted for the little brown bat, eastern pipistrelle, big brown stth bat, and eastern red bat. Landscape level habitat variables such as distance from 1 to 4 order streams and close proximity to ponds and lakes were important model components for the northern myotis, whereas local habitat structure (open or closed canopy and water at the site) were important habitat factors for predicting the presence of the Indiana bat and the eastern small-footed myotis. In a landscape dominated by closed canopy forest both clutter and open-adapted species used the available habitats as expected. I was probably able to model open-adapted species more effectively because of the limited number of openings which are important foraging areas, and therefore make detecting these species easier in those habitats. Consequently, there was more closed canopy habitat that made modeling the clutter-adapted species more difficult. I detected the northern myotis at twice the number of locations than other clutter-adapted species, thereby suggesting that my inability to model these other clutter-adapted species is linked to these species being less common in the three park units.