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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Buildings as Shelters During Foraging Bouts

Buildings provide structures that can be used by bats as a temporary shelter. For example, buildings are often used by bats as a shelter to digest food items gathered during their most recent foraging bout (Ormsbee et al. 2007). This behavior has been observed in many species, including tropical carnivorous species such as the greater false vampire bat, Megaderma lyra, in India (Subbaraj and Balasingh 1996), and the greater slit-faced bat, Nycteris grandis, in southern Africa (Fenton et al. 1990) as well as temperate insectivorous bats such as Leisler's bat, Nyctalus leisleri, in Europe (Shiel et al. 1999), and the pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus, in the USA (Lewis 1994). In general, the temporary use of buildings by foraging bats may be the first step toward a more permanent occupation of buildings.

Buildings as Maternity Roosts

Females of many synanthropic bats use buildings as maternity roosts. Sometimes adult males share the same roost, but often the sexes are segregated. According to our literature survey, at least 35 bat species form maternity colonies in buildings. Energetic advantages and reduced predation risk may be benefits for female bats that give birth and raise their young in buildings. Harbusch and Racey (2006) reported that the serotine bat, Eptesicus serotinus, selected old buildings with slate roofing for maternity roosts, largely because such buildings tend to have small holes and fissures allowing easy access. Also, such buildings offered suitable temperatures of about 22 °C during gestation and lactation periods, a critical parameter for the survival of offspring (Harbusch and Racey 2006). Further, many species that form maternity colonies in buildings show high levels of site fidelity and natal philopatry, with female young returning to the same roosts to reproduce when they mature (Harbusch and Racey 2006). This could initiate a tradition of using buildings instead of natural roosts in local bat populations.

 
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