Despite the potential for prescribed fire and natural wildfire to increase snag abundance in hardwood forests, few studies have investigated effects of fire on bat roosting habitat, particularly that of the endangered Indiana myotis Myotis sodalis. From 2001 to 2009, we examined roost selection of Indiana myotis in burned and unburned forests in Tucker County, West Virginia. We radiotracked 15 male Indiana myotis to 50 roost trees; 16 in burned stands and 34 in unburned stands. Indiana myotis roosted in stands that had initially been burned 1-3 y prior to our observations. In burned stands, Indiana myotis roosted exclusively in fire-killed maples (Acer spp.). In unburned stands, they roosted in live trees, predominately hickories (Carya spp.), oaks (Quercus spp.), and maples. Roost trees in burned stands were surrounded by less basal area and by trees in advanced stages of decay, creating larger canopy gaps than at random trees in burned stands or actual roost trees located in unburned stands. Compared to random trees in unburned stands, roost trees in unburned stands were less decayed, had higher percent bark coverage, and were surrounded by less basal area, also resulting in larger canopy gaps. Roost-switching frequency and distances moved by Indiana myotis among roost trees were similar between burned and unburned stands. Our research indicates that use of fire for forest management purposes, at minimum provoked no response from Indiana myotis in terms of roost tree selection, and may create additional roost resources, depending on spatial context.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Nature and Landscape Conservation