Effects of historic wildfire and prescribed fire on site occupancy of bats in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA

  • Lauren V. Austin
  • Alexander Silvis
  • W. Mark FordEmail author
  • Karen E. Powers
Original Paper


Given the likelihood of regional extirpation of several once-common bat species in eastern North America from white-nose syndrome, it is critical that the impacts of forest management activities, such as prescribed fire, are known in order to minimize potentially additive negative effects on bat populations. Historic wildfires may offer a suitable surrogate to assess long-term burn impacts on bats for planning, implementing and assessing burn programs. To examine the effects of historic fire on bats, we sampled bat activities at 24 transect locations in burned and unburned forest stands in the central Appalachian Mountains of Shenandoah National Park (SNP), Virginia, USA. There was limited evidence of positive fire effects over time on hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus Beauvois) and big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus Beauvois) occupancy. Overall, there were few or mostly equivocal relationships of bat occupancy relative to burn conditions or time since fire in SNP across species using a false-positive occupancy approach. Our results suggest that fire does not strongly affect bat site occupancy short- or long-term in the central Appalachians.


Appalachian mountains Bats False-positive occupancy Prescribed fire Wildfire 



M. Muthersbaugh, K. Titus, M. Sellers, and S. Hannabass provided indispensable field assistance. The use of any trade, product or firm names does not imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren V. Austin
    • 1
  • Alexander Silvis
    • 1
    • 2
  • W. Mark Ford
    • 3
    Email author
  • Karen E. Powers
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Fish and Wildlife ConservationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Resource Environmental SolutionsWarrentonUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological SurveyVirginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.Biology DepartmentRadford UniversityRadfordUSA

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