A comparison of the roosting behaviour of Gould's wattled bats Chalinolobus gouldii using bat boxes and tree hollows in suburban Melbourne
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Lisa N. Evans, Lindy F. Lumsden, 2011. "A comparison of the roosting behaviour of Gould's wattled bats Chalinolobus gouldii using bat boxes and tree hollows in suburban Melbourne", The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats, Bradley Law, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney, Lindy Lumsden
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Bats in suburban areas face a number of challenges adapting to what is a highly altered landscape. This is particularly true for species that prefer tree hollows for day roosts because the large, old trees that have developed suitable hollows are often removed from suburban areas. In suburban Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, during the last ten years, nest boxes have increasingly been used to provide additional roosts for bats in suburban parkland and remnant forest. However, little is known of the relative use of natural hollows and bat boxes, or whether the addition of new roosts may alter roosting behaviour. The types of resources available to bats may influence their roosting behaviour and have consequences for social interactions, predation risk and parasite loads. At Gresswell Nature Conservation Reserve, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, there are both natural hollows and bat boxes available to a population of Gould's wattled bat Chalinolobus gouldii. This study investigated the relative use of the two roost types to determine if there were intraspecific differences in roost-use. We used radiotelemetry to locate the roost sites of six males and nine females from January until March 2007; all bats were initially caught while roosting in bat boxes. Roosts were subsequently found in 12 bat boxes and 10 tree hollows. Both sexes used tree hollows and bat boxes, and there was no apparent preference by either sex for either roost type. Individuals moved between the two roost types, indicating the boxes had been incorporated into the overall roosting resource available to the bats. Roost fidelity was variable, with some individuals regularly shifting roosts while others continued to use the same roost for up to 14 days. Bats using boxes shifted to new roosts significantly less often than when in hollows. The roost shifting behaviour of individuals using tree hollows in this study was very similar to that shown by C. gouldii using tree hollows in two previous studies in the rural landscape of northern Victoria.