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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences eTheses
Title: The distribution and habitat preferences of bats in a temperate urban landscape
Authors: Lintott, Paul
Supervisor(s): Park, K J
Bunnefeld, N
Keywords: Urban ecology
Landscape ecology
Cryptic species
Citizen science
Issue Date: Jul-2015
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Lintott, P. R., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Goulson, D., & Park, K. J. (2014). Testing the effectiveness of surveying techniques in determining bat community composition within woodland. Wildlife Research, 40(8), 675-684.
Lintott, P. R., Bunnefeld, N., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Minderman, J., Mayhew, R. J., Olley, L., & Park, K. J. (2014). City life makes females fussy: sex differences in habitat use of temperate bats in urban areas. Royal Society Open Science, 1(3), 140200.
Lintott, P. R., Bunnefeld, N., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Minderman, J., Blackmore, L. M., Goulson, D., & Park, K. J. (2014). Moth species richness, abundance and diversity in fragmented urban woodlands: implications for conservation and management strategies. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23(11), 2875-2901.
Lintott, P. R., Bunnefeld, N., & Park, K. J. (2015). Opportunities for improving the foraging potential of urban waterways for bats. Biological Conservation, 191, 224-233.
Lintott, P. R., Bunnefeld, N., Minderman, J., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Mayhew, R. J., Olley, L., & Park, K. J. (2015). Differential Responses to Woodland Character and Landscape Context by Cryptic Bats in Urban Environments. Plos One, e0126850
Abstract: Urbanisation is a key driver in the loss, fragmentation and modification of natural habitats resulting in the global loss of biodiversity. As the human population, and consequently the rate of urbanisation, continues to increase exponentially it is important to understand how to sustain and enhance biodiversity within the built environment. Cities comprise a complex assortment of habitat types yet relatively little is known of how its composition and spatial configuration can influence species presence or foraging activities. It is therefore necessary to examine habitat use and biodiversity patterns at multiple spatial scales to fully understand how species are responding to the urban matrix. There are few other orders of animals that are as strongly associated with people as bats (Chiroptera); for some bat species human habitations provide roosts and adaptations of the environment provide food sources. However bat species richness generally declines with increasing urbanisation indicating that many species are not able to persist in highly urbanised areas. In this thesis, I show that the behaviour, habitat preferences, and distribution of bats are strongly influenced by the built environment at both a local and landscape scale. Although many animal species are known to exhibit sex differences in habitat use, adaptability to the urban landscape is commonly examined at the species level without consideration of potential intraspecific differences. I found that female Pipistrellus pygmaeus show greater selectivity in foraging locations within urban woodland in comparison to males at both a local and landscape scale. There was a lower probability of finding females within woodlands which were poorly connected, highly cluttered, with a high edge: interior ratio and fewer mature trees. The results have important implications for our understanding of how to manage areas for breeding females and highlight the need to supplement acoustic monitoring with trapping data to assess sex differences in habitat use. Determining how morphological or behavioural traits can influence species adaptability to the built environment may enable us to improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts. The morphological similarities between P. pygmaeus and P. pipistrellus suggest that both species should respond similarly to the urban matrix, however I found differential habitat use occurring within a variety of urban habitats (e.g. woodland and waterways) and at a landscape scale. In urban woodland there was a higher probability of P. pygmaeus activity relative to P. pipistrellus in woodlands with low clutter and understory cover which were surrounded by low levels of built environment. Many bat species are strongly associated with aquatic or adjacent riparian habitats yet we know little about the utilisation of urban waterways by bats. After surveying urban waterways throughout the UK, I was able to show that the built environment can negatively affect a variety of bat species from the riparian zone up to 3km from a waterway. This indicates that beneficial urban waterway rehabilitation schemes for bats require management at multiple spatial scales, from retaining a vegetated riparian zone at the local scale to highlighting the necessity for conservation funding to be spent on the implementation of landscape scale environmental improvement schemes that encompass the entire urban matrix. Undertaking surveys to confirm species presence or to estimate population sizes can be difficult, particularly for elusive species such as bats. I was able to demonstrate a variety of ways to increase surveying efficiency (e.g. the use of an acoustic lure to increase bat-capture rate and a significant relationship between bat activity and the relative abundance of certain species of bat which can maximise the knowledge of diversity in an area whilst minimising wildlife disturbances. Urbanisation has also had strong negative effects on many insect groups, such as moths, which are important components of the diets of many bat species. I found that woodland vegetation characteristics were more important than the surrounding landscapes in determining the abundance, species richness, and species diversity of moth assemblages within urban woodland. This indicates that management at a local scale to ensure provision of good quality habitat may be more beneficial for moth populations than improving habitat connectivity across the urban matrix. The findings presented in this thesis have important implications for our understanding of the adaptability of species to the built environment and for the management and monitoring of bat populations. It also highlights that even common bat species are negatively affected by urbanisation and much greater attention should be paid to securing their future within the urban landscape.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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