The use of bat boxes by insectivorous bats and other fauna in the greater Brisbane region
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Monika Rhodes, Darryl Jones, 2011. "The use of bat boxes by insectivorous bats and other fauna in the greater Brisbane region", The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats, Bradley Law, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney, Lindy Lumsden
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Nest boxes are used world-wide to provide substitute nest sites for a range of hollow-dependent fauna. Most nest box studies are carried out in forested environments to determine whether nest boxes might be a substitute for the loss of hollows. Although nest boxes are popular in urban backyards, little scientific research has been conducted on nest box usage in urban environments in Australia.
The present study explored the use of bat boxes by insectivorous bats in urban Brisbane. Over the three-year study, bat box use in Brisbane increased steadily to over 80%. Five of the 22 hollow-using bat species in the Brisbane region were found in boxes during the study, but most boxes were used only occasionally. In Brisbane, boxes were more likely to be used if they were clustered in groups of at least six boxes within 50 m of one another, in areas with high grass cover within one kilometre, and in areas with high forest cover within five kilometres, especially small and medium sized forest remnants. Regardless of season, boxes of all types were always warmer and had a higher humidity than ambient microclimates. Box size and colour influenced internal microclimates, with unpainted boxes, and large boxes exhibiting greater temperature and humidity gradients during summer. However, bat box microclimates did not influence box choice by bats during this study.
Box acceptance and use by bats remains poorly understood. Acceptance could be influenced by multiple factors, such as landscape variables, natural hollow abundance, box design, locale climate at locations, microclimate inside boxes and the species' ecology. Further research is needed to understand the factors influencing box usage for each species as it is likely that some species have specialised roosting requirements.
While bat boxes have potential to play an important role in conservation and management of hollow-dependent bats, they usually only provide at best a temporary augmentation to natural roosts. Consequently, the primary management goal should be to preserve existing hollow-bearing trees.