Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

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Borkin K.M.,University of Auckland | O'Donnell C.,Southern Regional Science Center | Parsons S.,University of Auckland
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2011

Clear-fell harvest of forest concerns many wildlife biologists because of loss of vital resources such as roosts or nests, and effects on population viability. However, actual impact has not been quantified. Using New Zealand long-tailed bats (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) as a model species we investigated impacts of clear-fell logging on bats in plantation forest. C. tuberculatus roost within the oldest stands in plantation forest so it was likely roost availability would decrease as harvest operations occurred. We predicted that post-harvest: (1) roosting range sizes would be smaller, (2) fewer roosts would be used, and (3) colony size would be smaller. We captured and radiotracked C. tuberculatus to day-roosts in Kinleith Forest, an exotic plantation forest, over three southern hemisphere summers (Season 1 October 2006-March 2007; Season 2 November 2007-March 2008; and Season 3 November 2008-March 2009). Individual roosting ranges (100% MCPs) post harvest were smaller than those in areas that had not been harvested, and declined in area during the 3 years. Following harvest, bats used fewer roosts than those in areas that had not been harvested. Over 3 years 20.7% of known roosts were lost: 14.5% due to forestry operations and 6.2% due to natural tree fall. Median colony size was 4.0 bats (IQR = 2.0-8.0) and declined during the study, probably because of locally high levels of roost loss. Post harvest colonies were smaller than colonies in areas that had not been harvested. Together, these results suggest the impact of clear-fell harvest on long-tailed bat populations is negative. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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