How wildlife social and resource networks are distributed on the landscape and how animals respond to resource loss are important aspects of behavioral ecology. For bats, understanding these responses may improve conservation efforts and provide insights into adaptations to environmental conditions. We tracked maternity colonies of northern bats (Myotis septentrionalis) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA to evaluate their social and resource networks and space use. Roost and social network structure differed between maternity colonies. Overall roost availability did not appear to be strongly related to network characteristics or space use. In simulations for our two largest networks, roost removal was related linearly to network fragmentation; despite this, networks were relatively robust, requiring removal of >20% of roosts to cause network fragmentation. Results from our analyses indicate that northern bat behavior and space use may differ among colonies and potentially across the maternity season. Simulation results suggest that colony social structure is robust to fragmentation caused by random loss of small numbers of roosts. Flexible social dynamics and tolerance of roost loss may be adaptive strategies for coping with ephemeral conditions in dynamic forest habitats.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Behavioral Neuroscience