Project Code: WEYDV-02-036
Sponsor:Weyerhaeuser Company Limited

Forest management practices may impact bat species both positively, through development of forage areas and negatively, through loss of roosting habitat. However, little landscape scale research has been done in Alberta to examine these potential impacts. The objectives of the research were to contribute to existing baseline information regarding the presence and distribution of bats, explore the relationship of bat diversity and activity to forest composition and potential roost availability, investigate effects of structure retention in cutblocks on bat activity at pond sites, and provide recommendations to forest managers regarding conservation of bat populations.

During the summers of 1998 and 1999, the researcher examined bat activity in west-central Alberta in three forest types, and in areas where standing structure was retained following harvest. All seven forest bat species expected to occur in west-central Alberta were verified by ultrasonic and capture techniques.

Results from this study show that narrow seismic lines running through mature aspen-, pine-, and spruce-dominated forest provide commuting habitat for all bat species and species aggregates. In addition, the amount of structure retained in a cutblock did not affect bat activity at pond sites. The study revealed a low abundance of ideal roost structures across forest types in mature forest stands. The recruitment of these structures, which are essential to the reproductive success of many forest bat species, is also limited. Standing dead trees and live recruitment trees should be retained to conserve bat populations.