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Differential responses to woodland character and landscape context by cryptic bats in urban environments

Lintott, Paul R.; Bunnefeld, Nils; Minderman, Jeroen; Fuentes-Montemayor, Elisa; Mayhew, Rebekah J.; Olley, Lena; Park, Kirsty J.


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Paul Lintott
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science

Nils Bunnefeld

Jeroen Minderman

Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor

Rebekah J. Mayhew

Lena Olley

Kirsty J. Park


© 2015 Lintott et al. Urbanisation is one of the most dramatic forms of land use change which relatively few species can adapt to. Determining how and why species respond differently to urban habitats is important in predicting future biodiversity loss as urban areas rapidly expand. Understanding how morphological or behavioural traits can influence species adaptability to the built environment may enable us to improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Although many bat species are able to exploit human resources, bat species richness generally declines with increasing urbanisation and there is considerable variation in the responses of different bat species to urbanisation. Here, we use acoustic recordings from two cryptic, and largely sympatric European bat species to assess differential responses in their use of fragmented urban woodland and the surrounding urban matrix. There was a high probability of P. pygmaeus activity relative to P. pipistrellus in woodlands with low clutter and understory cover which were surrounded by low levels of built environment. Additionally, the probability of recording P. pygmaeus relative to P. pipistrellus was considerably higher in urban woodland interior or edge habitat in contrast to urban grey or non-wooded green space. These results show differential habitat use occurring between two morphologically similar species; whilst the underlying mechanism for this partitioning is unknown it may be driven by competition avoidance over foraging resources. Their differing response to urbanisation indicates the difficulties involved when attempting to assess how adaptable a species is to urbanisation for conservation purposes.


Lintott, P. R., Bunnefeld, N., Minderman, J., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Mayhew, R. J., Olley, L., & Park, K. J. (2015). Differential responses to woodland character and landscape context by cryptic bats in urban environments. PLoS ONE, 10(5),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 8, 2015
Online Publication Date May 15, 2015
Publication Date May 15, 2015
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2017
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 5
Article Number e0126850
Keywords differential responses, woodland character, landscape context, cryptic bats, urban environments
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