During 2001, we used active acoustical sampling (Anabat II) to survey foraging habitat relationships of bats on the Savannah River Site (SRS) in the upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Using an a priori information-theoretic approach, we conducted logistic regression analysis to examine presence of individual bat species relative to a suite of microhabitat, stand, and landscape-level features such as forest structural metrics, forest type, proximity to riparian zones and Carolina bay wetlands, insect abundance, and weather. There was considerable empirical support to suggest that the majority of the activity of bats across most of the 6 species occurred at smaller, stand-level habitat scales that combine measures of habitat clutter (e.g., declining forest canopy cover and basal area), proximity to riparian zones, and insect abundance. Accordingly, we hypothesized that most foraging habitat relationships were more local than landscape across this relatively large area for generalist species of bats. The southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius) was the partial exception, as its presence was linked to proximity of Carolina bays (best-approximating model) and bottomland hardwood communities (other models with empirical support). Efforts at SRS to promote open longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly pine (P. taeda) savanna conditions and to actively restore degraded Carolina bay wetlands will be beneficial to bats. Accordingly, our results should provide managers better insight for crafting guidelines for bat habitat conservation that could be linked to widely accepted land management and environmental restoration practices for the region.
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