Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii) is one of the rarest European bat species. In oceanic climates, they appear to be restricted to woodlands, with preference for mature deciduous forests in lowlands. We investigated habitat selection by 20 lactating females belonging to 13 maternity colonies in Mediterranean landscapes. Deciduous forests (particularly Quercus pyrenaica) were positively selected, and coniferous forests were opportunistically used, whereas no foraging bouts occurred in evergreen broadleaved woodlands or in non-forested areas. Bats preferred to forage inside the forest rather than in edges or clearings. Stands of high canopy cover were also preferred. The preference for deciduous over evergreen broadleaved woodlands suggests that other variables such as prey availability, rather than structural constraints, drive habitat selection. M. bechsteinii might be abundant in well preserved deciduous forests within its Mediterranean range, in which the species' distribution might be limited by habitat loss and degradation related to agricultural practices and deforestation.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4