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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Testing bat abundance and diversity predictions by PREBAT, a connectivity-based habitat suitability model for insectivorous bats

von Hirschheydt, Gesa; Kindvall, Oskar; de Jong, Johnny


Where large landscape modifications are planned, e.g. for infrastructure or exploitation, ecological impact assessments are required because of their potential effects on environment and species. Methods that make such assessments more standardized, efficient, and reliable are highly desirable. This paper proposes a new connectivity-based habitat model for bats (PREBAT), which could be used as a tool for impact assessments. Using data that was specifically collected for this purpose, the performance of PREBAT is critically analyzed and discussed. For this study, 50 sites within an area of 850 km(2) in eastern Sweden were inventoried for four nights each using automatic ultrasound recorders to get an empiric measure of bat occurrence that could be compared with PREBAT predictions. The correlation between the predicted values from PREBAT and the observed bat activity (number of recordings) or species richness was tested using generalized linear mixed models. Predicted values of PREBAT are significantly correlated to the number of species that regularly (more than one night) occur at a given site, but not to the total number of species. PREBAT performed also much better at predicting the activity of forest-living species than overall bat activity, which makes PREBAT particularly suitable for predicting conflicts for those species. This study proposes a new habitat model for bats that takes spatial connectivity between habitat patches into account. PREBAT is shown to perform satisfyingly and has the potential to become a useful tool in assessing the ecological impact of large-scale landscape modifications.


Bats (Chiroptera); Habitat network; Ecological impact assessment; Cost distance analysis; Landscape permeability; Acoustic survey

Published in

European Journal of Wildlife Research
2020, volume: 66, number: 2, article number: 29
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

von Hirschheydt, Gesa
Swiss Fed Inst Forest Snow and Landscape Res WSL
Kindvall, Oskar
Calluna AB
De Jong, Johnny (de Jong, Johnny)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre

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