Nest boxes do not cause a shift in bat community composition in an urbanised landscape Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Nest boxes are often used to provide supplementary roosts for cavity-dependent wildlife, but little is known about if they influence faunal community composition. Long-term monitoring of bat boxes in south-eastern Australia indicated that their use was dominated by one generalist species (Chalinolobus gouldii), causing concern that installing bat boxes could cause a shift toward less diverse bat communities. To test this, we conducted a large-scale before-after control-impact experiment at 18 sites, over five years. Sites were either: (1) those with existing bat boxes, (2) those where boxes were added during the study, or (3) controls without boxes. We used echolocation call data from 9035 bat detector nights to compare community composition, diversity, and species' relative activity between the sites. Chalinolobus gouldii continued to dominate the use of existing boxes, but we found little difference in community composition between sites based on the presence, absence, or addition of boxes. Our study is the first to explore the influence installing artificial hollows has on localized faunal assemblages over spatio-temporal scales relevant to management. We conclude that there is cause for optimism that bat boxes might not have perverse outcomes on local community composition in the short- to medium-term, as we had feared.

publication date

  • 2020