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Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 87–102 | Cite as

Urbanization and the abundance and diversity of Prairie bats

  • Joanna L. ColemanEmail author
  • Robert M. R. Barclay
Article

Abstract

The effects of urbanization on biodiversity are generally considered to be negative, but the potential for landscape context to modulate these effects has not been adequately examined because most urban ecology research has been conducted in one biome: the temperate forest. This bias also applies to studies of the urban ecology of bats, whose diversity is correlated with habitat heterogeneity. We investigated the hypothesis that in the fairly flat, homogeneous Prairies, urbanization, by creating structurally complex islands, benefits bats by increasing access to the vertical landscape elements (buildings and trees) in which they roost. From 2006 to 2008, we surveyed bat assemblages in and around Calgary, Alberta, using mist nets to capture them and bat detectors to record their echolocation activity. Our data supported the prediction that urbanization increases the abundance of Prairie bats, but not the prediction that it increases their diversity. Instead, the urban bat assemblage was less diverse, and exhibited decreased species evenness compared to non-urban assemblages. Although Myotis lucifugus dominated bat assemblages throughout our study area, this was most evident in the city, and this species drove the increased urban abundance of bats. Ultimately, we reject our hypothesis and conclude that urbanization in the Prairies may create attractive habitat for one synanthropic bat, but is detrimental to others.

Keywords

Urbanization Chiroptera Abundance Diversity Landscape Grassland 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For invaluable assistance in the field, we thank: N. Boulic, A. Bugajski, A. Goldie, T. Hershon, C. Olson, P. Payette, and especially E. Swerdfeger. Many thanks to C. Lausen for advice and reference calls. This project would not have been possible without the cooperation of government agencies that facilitated access to public lands, including the Government of Alberta (Tourism Parks and Recreation), the City of Calgary and Parks Canada. We also thank the private landowners who not only welcomed us onto their properties, but also showed both hospitality and an interest in bats and our work with them. Funding and materials were provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Killam Trusts, Bat Conservation International, University of Calgary and Canadian Tire.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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