Different responses of attic-dwelling bat species to landscape naturalness
Abstract Although the general role of bats and the tolerance of many species to urbanized areas is well known, the relationship between urban roosts and their surrounding landscapes having different degrees of naturalness still requires our attention, mainly in species that are the most adapted to human-made structures. We used extensive data from attic-dwelling bat surveillance conducted throughout Slovakia to assess species responses to the degree of naturalness of the landscape surrounding their anthropogenic roosts. Using generalized linear mixed-effects modelling, we found that some bats established their nursery colonies in either a habitat with a higher proportion of forests mostly at sub-mountain/mountain altitudes ( R. hipposideros , P. auritus , M. emarginatus ), or they preferred lowlands with a predominance of arable land ( E. serotinus , P. austriacus ). Furthermore, higher habitat heterogeneity and the proportion of grassland were positively associated with the occurrence of P. auritus ; however, negative associations with these habitat variables were found in E. serotinus . The predicted suitability of an area for bats to establish nursery colonies suggests the existence of two regions with different bat species composition in the study area: a region of the Pannonian Lowlands and a less urbanized mountain region of the Carpathian Mountains. Our study thus showed that landscape naturalness is a determining factor for roost-site selection by bats preferring anthropogenic roosts; however, some bat species did not express specific preferences according to the tested environmental variables, and other ecological traits in the evaluated species should be considered.
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