Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 795–805 | Cite as

A small-scale response of urban bat activity to tree cover

  • Lauren MorettoEmail author
  • Lenore Fahrig
  • Adam C. Smith
  • Charles M. Francis


Bats in urban areas depend on trees, and bat activity increases with tree cover. To effectively manage bat habitat in cities, it is important to know the distance to which tree cover most strongly influences bats (i.e., the ‘scale of effect’). The aim of this study was to estimate the scale of effect of tree cover on bats in Toronto, Canada. To achieve this, we measured bat activity at 52 sampling sites across the city. We then examined the relationships between bat activity and percent tree cover measured within each of 19 scales, 0.025 to 3.5 km in radius, surrounding each sampling site. We found that the scale of effect of percent tree cover on total bat and individual species activity ranged from 0.025 to 0.25 km among species. Our results suggest that adding or removing urban trees influences bats up to 0.25 km away. Urban tree management decisions should consider the impacts to bats beyond the site of management and within the surrounding landscape of a 250 m-radius scale.


Bats Chiroptera Cities Tree canopy Habitat management Urbanization 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank E. Pervin, K. Mufarrij, M. El-Saadi, S. Guenette, K. Maki, S. Potter, and J. Evans for their field and lab assistance; the supportive team at GLEL (including past and present members: D. Bert, J. Put, L. Monck-Whipp, and K. Ethier), J. Kerr, and M. Long for their advice and assistance with project logistics; and the homeowners in Toronto for providing access to their properties for this research. We are grateful to M. Anissimoff, R. Zimmerling, K. Patriquin, C. Guy, and M. B. Fenton for their advice regarding bat echolocation call sampling, processing, and identification, and to J. Pasher and D. Boyes for their assistance with analyses in ArcGIS. We also thank L. Hooton and A. Adams for the reference library of bat calls. This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) to L. Moretto, and by grants to L. Fahrig from NSERC and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Supplementary material

11252_2019_846_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 2192 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change CanadaNational Wildlife Research CentreOttawaCanada

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