Editor-in-Chief: Denys, Christiane
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The importance of woodland for Rhinolophus hipposideros (Chiroptera, Rhinolophidae) in Austria
Earlier radio tracking studies have shown that woodlands are key foraging habitats of the endangered lesser horseshoe bat. Hence, the location of maternity roosts should be influenced by the availability of woodland. I studied the distribution of maternity roosts in Austria with respect to the availability of woodland at different scales. Based on digital maps I compared the percentage of woodland cover within a radius of 0.5 and 2.5 km around maternity roosts with that of randomly selected churches and castles. I also measured the distance from maternity roosts to the nearest patch of woodland.
Comparing different Austrian provinces, the relative number of maternity roosts tended to be greater in provinces with greater woodland cover. Woodland was more abundant around existing maternity roosts than around randomly selected churches and castles. These patterns were found within 0.5 km in both Carinthia and Salzburg, and within 2.5 km in Salzburg only. Furthermore, the distance to the nearest patch of woodland was shorter at existing maternity roosts than at randomly selected churches and castles in Salzburg. Colony size increased with the proportion of surrounding woodland: small areas of woodland supported only small colonies, while bigger colonies were only located in the vicinity of larger proportions of woodland. I conclude that woodland is an important factor explaining the distribution and selection of maternity roosts and should therefore strongly be considered when conservation measures for this species are required, designed and put into action.
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