The Importance of Linear Landscape Elements for Bats in a Farmland Area: The Influence of Height on Activity

Open access

Abstract

In the past 50 years, widespread removal of hedges and hedgerows in many European regions, with a consequent reduction in biodiversity, has occurred as a result of farming intensification. Acknowledging the ecological importance of linear farmland landscape elements, many agro-environmental schemes provide financial support for the management, conservation and reconstruction of hedges and hedgerows. The efficacy of such initiatives, also aimed at bat conservation, could be enhanced by including the role of hedges and hedgerows correlated to the variability of their physical structure and to the surrounding landscape context. Linear landscape elements are in fact of great importance to bats, whose flight activity tends to increase in proximity to hedges and hedgerows, used both during foraging and as commuting routes. Nevertheless, information concerning the correlation between various physical structures of hedges and flight and foraging techniques in bats is still lacking. The present study analyses the activity of bats along two different hedge types, with and without trees, and in open spaces, in an area of the Padana plane (North-western Italy) as a function of different flight behaviours.

Activity in bats appears higher along hedges than in open spaces but no significant differences are noted between the various hedge types under investigation. Foraging behaviour is primarily detected along hedges with trees but is lower along hedges without trees and in open spaces. This is particularly evident in bat species that have adapted to foraging in closed spaces surrounded by foliage (Myotis and Plecotus genera) or at the periphery of these environments (Pipistrellus genus), whereas it not seen species that forage in open spaces (Nyctalus genus). Hedge reconstruction aimed at bat conservation ought to, therefore, favour tall hedges with trees as opposed to low hedges without trees.

Antrop, M., (2005). Why landscapes of the past are important for the future. Landscape and Urban Planning, 70, 21-34.

Baltensperger, B.H., (1987). Hedgerow distribution and removal in non forested regions of the Midwest. Journal of Soils and Water Conservation, 42, 60-64.

Barataud, M,. (2012). Ecologie acoustique des chiroptères d'Europe. Biotope Édition, Mèze. Muséum national dHistoire naturelle, Paris.

Benton, T.G., Vickery, J.A. & Wilson, J.D. (2003). Farmland biodiversity: is habitat heterogeneity the key? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18, 182-188.

Bianchi, F.J.J.A., Booij, C.J.H. & Tscharntke, T., (2006). Sustainable pest regulation in agricultural landscapes: a review on landscape composition, biodiversity and natural pest control. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences. 273, 1715-1727. Retrieved March 30, 2006, from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2006.3530.

Boughey, K. L., Lake, I. R., Haysom, K. A. & Dolman, P. M. (2011). Improving the biodiversity benefits of hedgerows: How physical characteristics and the proximity of foraging habitat affect the use of linear features by bats. Biological Conservation, 144, 1790-1798.

Burel, F. (1996). Hedgerows and their role in agricultural landscapes. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 15, 169-190.

DEFRA (2010). Trends, Long Term Survival and Ecological Values of Hedgerow Trees: Development of Populations Models to Inform Strategy. Forest Research, Forestry Commission. Report to the UK Government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London.

Dietz, C., von Helversen, O. & Nill, D., (2009). Bats of Britain, Europe and Northwest Africa. A. & C. Black: London.

Dover, J. & Sparks, T., (2000). A review of the ecology of butterflies in British hedgerows. Journal of Environmental Management, 60, 51-63.

Downs, N. C. & Racey. P. A., (2006). The use by bats of habitat features in mixed farmland in Scotland. Acta Chiropterologica, 8, 169-185.

Entwistle, A. C., Racey, P. A. & J. R. Speakman, (1996). Habitat exploitation by a gleaning bat, Plecotus auritus. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 351B: 921-931

Fenton, M.B., (1989). The foraging behaviour and ecology of animal eating bats. Canadian Journal of Zoology . 68, 411-421

Green, R. E., Osborne, P. E. & Sears, E. J., (1994). The distribution of passerine birds in hedgerows during the breeding season in relation to characteristics of the hedgerow and adjacent farmland. Journal of Applied Ecology, 31, 677-692.

Griffin, D.R., Webster, F.A. & Michael, C.R., (1960). The echolocation of flying insects by bats. Animal Behaviour, 8, 141-154.

Hannon, L.E., (2009). Hedgerows in an agri-natural landscape: potential habitat value for native bees. Biological Conservation, 142, 2140-2154.

Hinsley, S. A. & Bellamy, P. E., (2000). The influence of hedge structure, management and landscape context on the value of hedgerows to birds: a review. Journal of environmental management, 60(1): 33-49.

Hinsley, S.A., Bellamy, P.E., (2000). The influence of hedge structure, management and landscape context on the value of hedgerows to birds: a review. Journal of Environmental Management, 60, 33-49.

Kelm, D. H., Lenski, J., Kelm, V., Toelch, U., & Dziock, F., (2014). Seasonal bat activity in relation to distance to hedgerows in an agricultural landscape in central Europe and implications for wind energy development. Acta Chiropterologica, 16, 65-73.

Kotzageorgis, G. C. & Mason, C. F., (1997). Small mammal populations in relation to hedgerow structure in an arable landscape. Journal of Zoology, 242, 425-434.

Krull, D., Schumm, A., Metzner, W. & Neuweiler, G., (1991). Foraging areas and foraging behavior in the notch-eared bat, Myotis emarginatus (Vespertilionidae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 28, 247-253.

Jonsen, I.D. & Fahrig, L., (1997). Response of generalist and specialist insect herbivores to landscape spatial structure. Landscape Ecology, 12,185-197. Retrieved March 3, 2000, from DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1007961006232.

Lewis, T., (1967). The horizontal and vertical distribution of flying insects near artificial windbreaks. Annals of Applied Biology, 60, 23-31.

Lewis, T., (1969). The distribution of flying insects near a low hedgerow. Journal of Applied Ecology, 6, 443-452.

Limpens, H.J.G.A. & Kapteyn, K., (1991). Bats, their behaviour and linear landscape elements. Myotis,29: 39-48.

Mackie, I. J. & Racey, P. A., (2007). Habitat use varies with reproductive state in noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula): implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 140(1), 70-77.

Maudsley, M. J., (2000). A review of the ecology and conservation of hedgerow invertebrates in Britain. Journal of Environmental Management, 60, 65-76.

Michel, N., Burel, F., Legendre, P. & Butet, A., (2007). Role of habitat and landscape in structuring small mammal assemblages in hedgerow networks of contrasted farming landscapes in Brittany, France. Landscape Ecology, 22(8), 1241-1253.

Müller, J., Mehr, M., Bässler, C., Fenton, M. B., Hothorn, T., Pretzsch, H.,& Brandl, R., (2012). Aggregative response in bats: prey abundance versus habitat. Oecologia, 169(3), 673-684.

Norberg, U. M. & Rayner, J. M., (1987). Ecological morphology and flight in bats (Mammalia; Chiroptera): wing adaptations, flight performance, foraging strategy and echolocation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 316, 335-427.

Neuweiler, G., (1989). Foraging ecology and audition in echolocating bats. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 4(6), 160-166.

Pollard, K.A. & Holland J. M., (2006). Arthropods within the woody element of hedgerows and their distribution pattern. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 8, 203-211.

Regione Piemonte, ( 2015). Programma di sviluppo rurale 2014-2020. Regione Piemonte - Ministero delle politiche agricole, alimentari e forestali.

Robinson, R.A., Wilson, J.D. & Crick, H.Q.P., (2001). The importance of arable habitat for farmland birds in grassland landscapes. Journal of applied Ecology, 38,1059-1069. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2664.2001.00654.x.

Robinson, R. A. & Sutherland, W. J., (2002). Post‐war changes in arable farming and biodiversity in Great Britain. Journal of applied Ecology, 39(1), 157-176.

Russo, D. & Jones, G., (2002). Identification of twenty-two bat species (Mammalia: Chiroptera) from Italy by analysis of time-expanded recordings of echolocation calls. Journal of Zoology. London. 58, 98-103.

Russo D. & Jones G., (2003). Use of foraging habitats by bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in a Mediterranean area determined by acoustic surveys: conservation implications. Ecography, 26, 197-209.

Schaub, A. & Schnitzler H.U., (2007). Flight and echolocation behaviour of three vespertilionid bat species while commuting on flyways. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 193, 1185-1194.

Schnitzler, H.U. & Kalko E.K.V., (2001). Echolocation by insect-eating bats. Bioscience, 51, 557-569

Schnitzler, H.U., Moss C. F. & Denzinger A., (2003). From spatial orientation to food acquisition in echolocating bats. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 18, 386-394.

Sklenicka, P., Molnarova, K., Brabec, E., Kumble, P., Pittnerova, B., Pixova, K. & Salek, M., (2009). Remnants of medieval field patterns in the Czech Republic: analysis of driving forces behind their disappearance with special attention to the role of hedgerows. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 129, 465-473.

Tattersall, F.H., Macdonald, D.W., Hart, B.J., Johnson, P., Manley, W. & Feber, R., (2002). Is habitat linearity important for small mammal communities on farmland? Journal of Applied Ecology , 39: 643-652.

Thomas, D. W. & West S. D., (1989). Sampling methods for bats. United States Forest Service General Technical Report, PNW, 243, 1-20.

Vaughan, N., Jones, G. & Harris, S., (1997). Habitat use by bats (Chiroptera) assessed by means of a broad-band acoustic method. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 716-730.

Verboom, B. & Huitema H., (1997). The importance of linear landscape elements for the pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and the serotine bat Eptesicus serotinus. Landscape Ecology, 12, 117-125.

Verboom, B. & Spoelstra K., (1999). Effects of food abundance and wind on the use of tree lines by an insectivorous bat, Pipistrellus pipistrellus. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 77, 1393-1401.

Walker, M. P., Dover, J. W., Hinsley, S. A. & Sparks, T. H., (2005). Birds and green lanes: Breeding season bird abundance, territories and species richness. Biological conservation, 126(4), 540-547.

Walsh, A. L. & Harris S., (1996). Foraging habitat preferences of verpertilionid bats in Britain. Journal of Applied Ecology, 33, 508-518.

Weibull, A.-C., Östman, Ö. & Granqvist, A., (2003). Species richness in agroecosystems: the effect of landscape, habitat and farm management. Biodiversity and Conservation, 12, 1335-1355.

Whittingham, M.J., Krebs, J.R., Swetnam, R.D., Thewlis, R.M., Wilson, J.D. & Freckleton, R.P., (2009). Habitat associations of British breeding farmland birds. Bird Study, 56, 43-52.

Journal of Landscape Ecology

The Journal of Czech National Chapter of the Association for Landscape Ecology (CZ-IALE)

Journal Information


CiteScore 2017: 0.68

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.245
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.560

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 108 108 17
PDF Downloads 46 46 5