MANAGING FARMLANDS TO CONSERVE BATS.
Elissa M. Olimpi; University of California, Davis; 1088 Academic Surge, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA, 95616; eolimpi@gmail.com; Stacy M. Philpott
Agricultural lands account for ~40% of Earth's terrestrial surface area, contributing to a global biodiversity crisis. The expansion and intensification of agriculture make it critical to develop guidelines for conservation within these working landscapes. Existing strategies for conserving farmland bats, such as the addition of bat houses and creation of treelines and hedgerows, are often not feasible for farmers interested in conserving insectivorous bats due to concerns relating wildlife to food safety risks. To inform bat management in farmlands, we conducted an acoustic survey of bats on farms in the California Central Coast and in nearby natural areas to see which existing farm and landscape features promote bats. We recorded over 36,000 bat calls and 12 species, and found that bats strongly preferred woodlands to farm fields. Within farm fields, we found that farms with more crop diversity had greater activity of forest-associated bats, regardless of available habitat surrounding farms. At the landscape level, we found the most concentrated bat use of woodlands in long, narrow woodland fragments in intensive agricultural landscapes, despite significant anthropogenic impacts to these woodlands. Our research provides two new management strategies to conserve farmland bats.
Ecology and Conservation of Bats II