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Monday, April 9 • 2:30pm - 2:45pm
SYMPOSIA-04: A Comparison of Myotis Roost Habitat Suitability in Forest-Dominated and Agriculture-Dominated Landscapes

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AUTHORS: Cheyenne Gerdes*, Laura D’Acunto, Patrick Zollner – Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University

ABSTRACT: North American bats are suffering major population declines due to the the continuing spread of White-nose Syndrome. The disease has especially impacted species such as the threatened Northern long-eared bat as well as the endangered Indiana bat. Addressing the resource needs of these species during the summer when offspring care occurs is an important part of species preservation. Most studies on summer roosting needs of these species focus on site and roost tree characteristics. Because Northern long-eared bats are highly plastic in maternity roost selection, using landscape level characteristics to define critical habitat may be a more feasible approach for generating management tools. While landscape-level habitat suitability data exists for the highly forested areas, less work has been done to determine habitat suitability for more agriculturally fragmented areas of the Midwest. This study compares habitat suitability of forest-dominated and agriculture-dominated landscapes for northern long-eared and Indiana bat roosts. We delineated forest-dominated and agriculture-dominated landscapes using a 25 km moving window analysis on a raster dataset of forested and non-forested cells. A 22% forested area breakpoint was classified as forest-dominated, while the remainder of the study area was considered agriculture-dominated. We used MaxEnt to create a habitat suitability maps for these two species based upon historical roost records from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Landscape-level environmental features such as local and nearby forest habitat, water resources, and the presence of nearby roads were used as predictor variables of bat roosting habitat suitability. Preliminary models reported that forested area within 90 m was the highest contributing predictor value (95%) for agriculturally dominated areas, while roost suitability in forest-dominated areas was mostly predicted by forested area within 1 km (77%). This suggests that more local landscape variables could have stronger influence on bat roosting habitat suitability in areas that are fragmented by agriculture.

Monday April 9, 2018 2:30pm - 2:45pm CDT
Adams Room