Qualitative synthesis of temperate bat responses to silvicultural treatments—where do we go from here?
Most bat species depend on forests for roosting, foraging, and drinking during part or all of their life cycles. Many of the world’s forests are managed using a variety of silvicultural treatments and, over the past 40 years, researchers have studied the responses of bats to these treatments. I carried out a qualitative synthesis of the literature on roosting and foraging responses of temperate insectivorous bats to silvicultural treatments at the stand level to determine what treatments may be most compatible with conservation and to guide future research. Eighty-eight studies from Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, met review criteria. Based on my results, foraging and commuting habitat use was less affected by changes in forest structure and composition than roost habitat use. Mid-rotation treatments that reduce clutter while retaining overstory structure (e.g., thinning and fire) had more neutral and positive effects than treatments that removed all or most of the overstory. Based on an examination of the methods and assumptions of the 88 studies included in this review, I conclude that future studies should: 1) strive to account for treatment effects on detection probability of bats when using acoustic detectors; 2) examine responses of bats to silvicultural treatments outside the maternity season; 3) examine demographic and physiological responses to silvicultural treatments in addition to habitat use to fully understand the effects of these treatments on bat populations; and 4) use stand-level data to model forest management effects across large landscapes and over long time periods.