Secondary Use of Aspen Cavities by Tree-Roosting Big Brown Bats

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matina C. Kalcounis-Rüppell, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: To further explore natural roost-site selection by temperate bats, we examined the use of tree roost sites by big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) in the West Block of Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, an area where the number of human structures is limited. In this area, we found big brown bats roosted exclusively in cavities of trembling aspen trees (Populus tremuloides), despite the availability of cavities in snags of conifer trees. Most cavities had been excavated and previously used by yellow-bellied sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius). The use of aspens by sapsuckers relates to the relatively soft wood and susceptibility to heart rot of these trees, which provide ideal conditions for nesting: decayed heartwood with a firm sapwood shell. Orientation of cavity entrances was close to due south. The width of bats and the width of cavity entrances differed, suggesting that bats are not using roosts for protection from predators or exclusion of competitors. Bats showed fidelity to a particular group of roost trees because, despite roost switching, bats reunited in subsequent roost sites. During the day, temperatures in aspen cavities were approximately 50C cooler than in cavities of conifer snags. Microclimate differences, including temperature, may be why aspen cavities are selected over available cavities in conifer snags. All of the randomly selected cavities in aspen that we searched showed evidence of use by bats, which suggests roost sites for big brown bats in southwestern Saskatchewan may be a limiting resource.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1998
bats, Eptesicus fuscus, habitat complexity, maternity colony, roost, switching, temperature, tree cavity, trembling aspen

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