Foliage-roosting eastern red bats select for features associated with management in a central hardwood forest

Elizabeth A. Beilke, G. Scott Haulton, Joy M. O'Keefe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forests provide crucial foraging and roosting habitat to many bat species, and the gradual loss of forests is among the principal threats to global bat diversity. Forests that persist in the face of land use change are those that are managed for a variety of uses, including recreation, hunting, timber production, and wildlife conservation. Thus, understanding how bats respond to management is imperative to their conservation. We used radio telemetry to study the roosting and foraging behaviors of male and female eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis). These forest-dependent bats roost in the foliage of live trees and are declining across their range. We tracked 26 bats (7 males and 18 females; one female was tracked twice) from May to August 2017–2019 in two state forests in south-central Indiana, USA. We estimated space use with 95% kernel density estimates and used generalized linear and linear mixed models to assess resource selection and use at three levels: population-level foraging selection, individual-level foraging use, and population-level roost selection. On average, eastern red bats foraged over a relatively small area (81 ha) and traveled a maximum distance of 1404 m from their roosts. The eastern red bat population foraged near maintained openings, recent regeneration openings, roads, and ponds within the study area. Within their foraging ranges, eastern red bats spent more time foraging near roads, ponds, and ridges. Eastern red bats roosted near maintained openings, recent regeneration openings, and ponds, switching roosts every two days. Roost trees were larger than random trees and were in plots containing fewer live stems than random plots. Together, these results reveal that some of the most important landscape features for eastern red bats are linear corridors (e.g., roads or ridgetops), forest openings (e.g., maintained openings and recent regeneration openings), perennial sources of water (e.g., ponds), and large trees. Overall, eastern red bats exhibited strong selection for managed portions of the forest, suggesting they can coexist with and likely benefit from timber management. When considering habitat for eastern red bats in central hardwood forests, we recommend land managers work to maintain large tracts of mature (>90 years old) forest, interspersed with young regeneration openings and provisioned with perennial water sources (e.g., ponds).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120604
JournalForest Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Bats
  • Forests
  • Lasiurus borealis
  • radio telemetry
  • spatial ecology
  • timber harvest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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