OOS 13-8 - Golf courses: An innovative opportunity for bat conservation

Tuesday, August 9, 2011: 10:30 AM
16A, Austin Convention Center
Megan A. Wallrichs , Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State University, Dover, DE
Kevina Vulinec , Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State University, Dover, DE

Habitat destruction is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and therefore habitat preservation is a top conservation priority.  Ecosystems may be drastically changed with the loss of just one species.  Bats in Northeastern United States are key components of an ecosystem serving as biological pest controls and indicators of ecosystem health. Habitat destruction combined with the devastating effects of white-nose syndrome pose a significant threat to bat populations. With continuous land development new approaches to habitat conservation must be considered.  Usually regarded as an environmental problem, golf courses may offer an innovative opportunity of using developed land in conjunction with conservation goals by using natural or man-made features on the altered landscape as possible wildlife habitat.  Studies have shown that golf courses can support significant numbers of birds, including threatened species, comparable to nearby natural areas.  Hard edges and water-hazards present on golf courses are two elements that encourage foraging bats, and forest patches may offer suitable roosting habitat.  Acting as pest predators, bats should be considered beneficial by golf course managers.  Using ultrasonic detectors placed at five different microhabitats  at golf courses across the Delmarva Peninsula region, I analyzed bat activity and habitat use as it related to small scale landscape change. Mist netting at golf courses allowed us to confirm the presence or absence of species.  


Acoustic monitoring indicates the presence of six species in the study region.  Preliminary results show the greatest activity occurred near water-hazards. Forested patches, tall canopy with mowed grass, tall grass, and low canopy with mowed grass, showed declining activity, respectively.  Future work will include prey availability monitoring with passive insect collecting traps.  The results of our study may have implications for the design and management of  new and existing golf course landscapes.

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