Modelling the distribution of bats in relation to landscape structure in a temperate mountain environment.
This study presents quantitative models that use landscape structure to predict spatial patterns in overall bat community composition, and individual species' distributions through canonical correspondence analysis and generalized linear models, respectively. A geographical information system was then used to draw up maps of overall community patterns and distribution of potential species' habitats. These models relied on field data from the Swiss Jura mountains. Vegetation comprises some boreoarctic features. Summits are usually forested with Picea abies within Aceri-Fagion, Abieti-Fagion and Asperulo-Fagion communities. Eight descriptors of landscape structure accounted for 30% of the variation in bat community composition. For some species, more than 60% of the variance in distribution could be explained by landscape structure. Elevation, forest or woodland cover, lakes and suburbs, were the most frequent predictors. This study shows that community composition in bats is related to landscape structure through species-specific relationships to resources. Due to their nocturnal activities and the difficulties of remote identification, a comprehensive bat census is rarely possible, and we suggest that predictive modelling of the type described here provides an indispensable conservation tool.