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What drives bat activity at field boundaries?

Foxley, Thomas; Lintott, Paul; Stone, Emma

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Thomas Foxley

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Paul Lintott
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science

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Dr Emma Stone
Senior Lecturer Environmental Biology


Field boundaries are important habitat for bats in agricultural landscapes, serving as commuting and foraging areas for many species. The goal of our study was to better understand the drivers of bat activity in agricultural landscapes to inform conservation policy and make specific recommendations for habitat management. We placed sixty-four full spectrum bat detectors at random recording locations, weekly, along field boundaries in North Somerset between July and October 2020. We used an automated classifier to analyse recordings and performed error rate modelling to account for and remove the majority of error in automated classifications. We used generalised additive models to explore bat response to recording location metrics, controlling for spatial-autocorrelation and temporal differences in sampling. We validated our models with k-fold cross-validation and explored the utility of our models for predicting bat activity at new sites. We found that field boundary characteristics better describe bat activity than adjacent field characteristics or measures of local landscape for the majority of species studied. Bat activity was higher along tall, wide, vegetated field boundaries containing trees; there was lower activity at arable recording locations. Still, bat activity was highly variable and predictive error was high. We found a large spatial effect driving activity patterns, meaning models are not able to predict activity beyond the extent of the study area. We recommend management strategies that give incentives to farmers for replacing fences with hedgerows, planting hedgerow trees, and maintaining tall and outgrown field boundaries.


Foxley, T., Lintott, P., & Stone, E. (2023). What drives bat activity at field boundaries?. Journal of Environmental Management, 329, 117029.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 11, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 26, 2022
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 3, 2023
Journal Journal of Environmental Management
Print ISSN 0301-4797
Electronic ISSN 1095-8630
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 329
Pages 117029
Keywords Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law; Waste Management and Disposal; General Medicine; Environmental Engineering; Generalised additive model Hedgerows Field boundaries Agricultural land management Linear landscape features Rhinolophus ferrumequinum
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Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: What drives bat activity at field boundaries?; Journal Title: Journal of Environmental Management; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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