Forest edges often have increased species richness and abundance (edge effect) and affect spatial behaviors of species and dynamics of species interactions. Landscapes of intensively managed pine (Pinus spp.) stands are characterized by a mosaic of patches and linear forest edges. Managed pine forests are a primary landscape feature of the southeastern United States, but the effects of intensive management on bat communities are poorly understood. Insectivorous bats are important top predators in nocturnal forest food webs. We examined bat foraging behavior along forest edges and in 4 structurally distinct stand types (open-canopy pine, prethinned pine, thinned pine, and unmanaged forest) within a managed pine forest in the coastal plain of North Carolina, USA. During May–August, 2006 and 2007, we recorded echolocation calls using Pettersson D240X bat detectors linked to digital recorders at 156 sites. We also sampled nocturnal flying insects at each site using Malaise insect traps. We used negative binomial count regression models to describe bat foraging behavior relative to forest edges, stand types, and prey availability. Although some species showed affinities for certain stand types and prey items, bat activity patterns were most strongly related to forest edges. Edges were used extensively by 6 aerial-hunting bat species, but avoided by Myotis species. Forest edges function similarly to natural forest gaps, by providing foraging opportunities for aerial-hunting bat species. Therefore, the maintenance of forest edges in managed pine landscapes may enhance foraging habitat for aerial-hunting bat species.
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Vol. 74 • No. 1