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Highly selective roosting of the giant noctule bat and its astonishing foraging activity by GPS tracking in a mountain environment

Abstract

The giant noctule, Nyctalus lasiopterus, is the largest and one of the least studied bat species in Europe with decreasing population trend. Due to its rarity, knowledge about its ecology and spatiotemporal activity is very fragmented. During two late-summer seasons, nine individuals were tracked using either radio-transmitters or GPS devices in an isolated population breeding in the Muránska planina Mts (Carpathians, Slovakia), which is an area characterized by distinct mountain landscape considerably different from the main species range. The bats roosted exclusively in mature aspen trees, Populus tremula, with decayed heartwood (n = 20 cavities in 18 trees) and located in sparse unmanaged natural mixed forests. Using GPS tracking technology (15–23 nights for each of three females), we found that the bats have large foraging home ranges (on average a minimum convex polygon 430 km2, average of 95% kernel density estimate of 361 km2) and had long foraging transits (up to ~ 130 km) with large distance from the roosting area (up to ~ 49 km). The bats foraged at altitudes from 1013 to 1308 m a.s.l. (max 2666 m a.s.l.), and from 124 to 367 m (max 1659 m) above ground. Novel information about roosting ecology and the spatiotemporal foraging patterns in a mountain environment is very important for conservation of this enigmatic bat in Central Europe.

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Acknowledgements

We thank G. Benčuríková, A. Boroš, J. Brndiar, A. Ciho, M. Hrivňak, B. Jarčuška, M. Jarošíková, P. Laboš, Z. Lehká, J. Rys, J. Svetlík, R. Uhrinová and many others for their kind assistance during the fieldwork. We are also grateful to V. Pandula (Forests of the Slovak Republic) for his support in protection of N. lasiopterus in Muránska planina NP. Two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for valuable comments and suggestions which helped to improve our work.

Funding

This study was funded by the Slovak Scientific Grant Agency VEGA (grant number 2/0077/17).

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Correspondence to Peter Kaňuch.

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Naďo, L., Lőbbová, D., Hapl, E. et al. Highly selective roosting of the giant noctule bat and its astonishing foraging activity by GPS tracking in a mountain environment. Mamm Res 64, 587–594 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-019-00446-1

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Keywords

  • Elevation
  • Satellite telemetry
  • Temperate forest
  • Tree hollows
  • Trembling poplar
  • Vespertilionidae