One model to rule them all: identifying priority bat habitats from multi-species habitat suitability models

Sarah M. Gaulke, Ashleigh B. Cable, Tara C. Hohoff, Brittany A. Rogness, Mark A. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bats are important components of global ecosystems, providing essential ecosystem services with substantial economic benefit. Yet North American bat populations have been negatively affected by numerous factors (e.g., disease, habitat loss, wind energy development) with compounding effects. Bats use habitats at a variety of scales, from small, isolated patches to large, contiguous corridors. Landscape-level research is necessary to identify important habitats, patches, and corridors to strategically target management interventions. We created habitat suitability models (HSMs) for hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus), eastern red bats (L. borealis), and tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus) across Illinois, USA, using species-specific landscape and climate variables. With the 3 models from this study and a previously published HSM for Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis), we stacked binary HSMs, thereby identifying priority conservation areas across Illinois. Species exhibited different distributional patterns and habitat preferences across Illinois. Multi-species HSMs highlight high quality habitat (i.e., ecologically important habitat that provides preferred resources for roosting, foraging, and raising young) in southern Illinois and along river riparian areas. This approach identified priority conservation areas mainly following hydrologic zones, which allows managers to strategically target restoration and conservation measures, invest funds in habitat likely to have high return-on-investment, and assist with decisions that affect bats (e.g., siting wind turbines, purchasing mitigation lands).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22351
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Indiana bat
  • Lasiurus borealis
  • Lasiurus cinereus
  • Myotis sodalis
  • Perimyotis subflavus
  • bats
  • eastern red bat
  • habitat suitability models
  • hoary bat
  • tri-colored bat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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