Sampling methodology influences habitat suitability modeling for chiropteran species

Sarah M. Gaulke, Tara Hohoff, Brittany A. Rogness, Mark A. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological advances increase opportunities for novel wildlife survey methods. With increased detection methods, many organizations and agencies are creating habitat suitability models (HSMs) to identify critical habitats and prioritize conservation measures. However, multiple occurrence data types are used independently to create these HSMs with little understanding of how biases inherent to those data might impact HSM efficacy. We sought to understand how different data types can influence HSMs using three bat species (Lasiurus borealis, Lasiurus cinereus, and Perimyotis subflavus). We compared the overlap of models created from passive-only (acoustics), active-only (mist-netting and wind turbine mortalities), and combined occurrences to identify the effect of multiple data types and detection bias. For each species, the active-only models had the highest discriminatory ability to tell occurrence from background points and for two of the three species, active-only models preformed best at maximizing the discrimination between presence and absence values. By comparing the niche overlaps of HSMs between data types, we found a high amount of variation with no species having over 45% overlap between the models. Passive models showed more suitable habitat in agricultural lands, while active models showed higher suitability in forested land, reflecting sampling bias. Overall, our results emphasize the need to carefully consider the influences of detection and survey biases on modeling, especially when combining multiple data types or using single data types to inform management interventions. Biases from sampling, behavior at the time of detection, false positive rates, and species life history intertwine to create striking differences among models. The final model output should consider biases of each detection type, particularly when the goal is to inform management decisions, as one data type may support very different management strategies than another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10161
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • active detection
  • bats
  • eastern red bat
  • habitat suitability model
  • hoary bat
  • mist-netting
  • passive detection
  • tri-colored bat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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