Extensive areas of old forests have declined all over the temperate regions of Europe mainly due to extensive forestry. This is likely to have negative impact on bats that roost in trees, such as the western barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus. We investigated its selection of summer roosts in a commercially used landscape in southern Sweden. We captured and radio-tracked 14 bats and found 17 occupied roosts. Nine of the roosts, including two used by a maternity colony (ca. 30 females), were located between overlapping boards on the gables of barns. The remaining eight roosts, all used by single individuals, were under lose bark on thin trees (DBH = 0.2–0.35 m). All recorded roosts had entrances pointing downwards, were adjacent to deciduous trees providing protective darkness, and were in areas without artificial lighting. In the barns, the bats avoided the northern aspect, which is the lightest (sun sets in the NW and rises in the NE). Roost temperatures did not differ between tree- and barn roosts. Average ambient light intensity on emergence and return was 13.3 lux (SD = 10.1 lux). Roosts in trees and barns shared common physical characteristics, yet despite this both maternity roosts were located in barns, perhaps because such roosts had more space than available tree roosts. Our results suggest that in areas deprived of large trees and extensive old forest, barbastelle shows flexibility in roost selection, although they consistently avoid artificial lights of all kinds. An abundance of potential roosts in trees and buildings and absence of light pollution are therefore key elements in a holistic conservation program for this species.
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Vol. 23 • No. 1