The niche variation hypothesis suggests that a population's ability to react to varying environmental conditions depend on the behavioural variability of its members. However, most studies on bats, including the work on the habitat use of the western barbastelle bat, Barbastella barbastellus, have not considered sex-specific and individual variability. We studied the habitat use of 12 female and five male western barbastelle bats within their home ranges with respect to available habitat types by applying kernel methods and Euclidean distances. Our results indicate individual habitat preferences within and among sexes of this species. Females preferred deciduous forest and linear elements within the forest. Males used habitat patches in the vicinity of the maternity colony and preferred forest edges and open habitats. Our results strongly suggest that both sexes' as well as individual variability in habitat choice are to be considered to assess a population's true potential to react on habitat alterations.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3