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Social interactions among bats could contribute to resilience


Indiana bat Determining roosting and foraging patterns of the endangered Indiana bat will aid habitat management.

Feb. 15, 2015 – Doctoral students Alexander Silvis and Andrew Kniowski applied graphic and spatial approaches to findings from Ohio State field studies suggesting that the endangered Indiana bat may be able to use social connections to survive a certain amount of roost destruction. “Social dynamics are important to bat roosting behavior,” said Silvis. “And now, looking at results of a study of roosting and foraging activity in a new light, we have evidence that Indiana bats make social contacts during foraging.”

By studying the movement of radio-tagged bats in 2009 and 2010, they observed that the female bats didn’t always return to the same roost. “We were able to map a network of connections between the roosts,” said Kniowski. A comparison of network maps from both years revealed that only the most central roosts were reused in 2010, suggesting that bat populations may re-establish social connections and foraging areas, even when some roosts are lost due to their transitory nature or deforestation.

“The study raises questions about the resiliency of Indiana bats to roost loss,” explained Associate Professor Mark Ford, who advises both students. The team’s research appears in the May 9 issue of PLOS ONE.

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