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1 March 2016 Summer-Habitat Suitability Modeling of Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) in the Eastern Mountains of West Virginia
Jesse L. De La Cruz, Ryan L. Ward
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Little information exists with regard to suitable summer habitat of Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) in West Virginia. Our research objectives were to use ultrasonic acoustic equipment and automated identification software to collect presence data for Indiana Bats and to examine habitat characteristics and availability across the local landscape. We used a maximum entropy (MAXENT) approach to determine if the distribution of various ecological factors such as landuse/landcover, forest fragmentation, aspect, area solar radiation, slope, proximity to permanent water, and elevation influenced foraging-habitat suitability of Indiana Bats. We sampled across the 1160-ha Camp Dawson Collective Training Area in Preston County, WV, to determine Indiana Bat presence. We employed the collected presence data to examine habitat suitability within a 16,151-ha study area encompassing the training facility. Based on MAXENT results, we characterized highly suitable Indiana Bat habitat as including large tracts of contiguous forest cover (>200 ha) associated with low to modest slopes (<20°), road corridors, and areas of high solar radiation (≥5.5 × 105 WH/m2). High (81–100%) and medium-high (61–80%) suitability classes were uncommon across the landscape (0.6% and 2.7%, respectively), with the broad medium-to-high suitability classes (41–100%) collectively comprising only 11.4% of the study area. Elevation (m) and aspect contributed little to the model and displayed low permutation importance that did not vary notably from the corresponding percent contribution. These variables, along with close proximity to permanent water (≤200 m away), are likely not limiting ecological factors. The results of this study supplement current knowledge of summer habitat of the Indiana Bat and provide land and wildlife managers localized guidance on conservation priorities within the region.

Jesse L. De La Cruz and Ryan L. Ward "Summer-Habitat Suitability Modeling of Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) in the Eastern Mountains of West Virginia," Northeastern Naturalist 23(1), 100-117, (1 March 2016).
Published: 1 March 2016
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