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Title: Bats, churches and landscape : ecology of soprano pipistrelle bats in eastern England
Author: Ryan, Madeleine Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 6460
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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The presence of bats inside church buildings can result in negative impacts, requests for advice and disagreements about what management approaches are appropriate. Despite the suspected importance of churches for bats, there has been little research focusing on the ecology and behaviour of bats in church buildings, and current gaps in knowledge sometimes restricts the quality of advice that can be given. This study makes use of several approaches (examination of existing records, a regional field survey, temperature and acoustic monitoring and radio-tracking) to improve understanding of the ecology of bats roosting in churches, with a focus on Pipistrellus pygmaeus (which can cause some of the most severe problems) in eastern England. The study focused on this region because it had the highest number of requests for advice about bats from church representatives in England. Inside churches, roof or ceiling crevices in the south sides of churches were preferentially selected as roost sites, and were also warmer than equivalent crevices in the north sides of churches. Roost crevices were characterised by fluctuating temperatures which warmed dramatically during the day and cooled at night, whereas church interior temperatures were stable. Within the highly modified, fragmented arable landscapes of eastern England, a modelling approach showed that P. pygmaeus selects church roosts with more wetland habitat cover within typical commuting distance, and which are closer to broad-leaved woodland, than churches in general. Radio-tagged female P. pygmaeus typically select wetland and woodland habitats for foraging, with arable land consistently the least selected, but most available habitat. I found substantial differences among colonies in home range and commuting distances, with bats from one colony commuting up to 15.9 km to reach foraging resources. Mobility may be important for the persistence of P. pygmaeus in fragmented landscapes by allowing bats to exploit multiple distant and dispersed foraging patches. Radio-tracked P. pygmaeus bats from three colonies collectively made use of multiple alternative day roosts in a range of structures across large areas, but bats at two colonies mostly day roosted in their respective church roosts. Using automatic, continuous acoustic monitoring, I found that P. pygmaeus bats were present and active inside three medieval churches throughout the year, with activity peaking in July. P. pygmaeus activity inside churches was positively correlated with night-time temperatures and negatively correlated with wind speed. Recommendations for conservation management are made along with possible future directions for applied research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available