Population size, catchment area, and sex-influenced differences in autumn and spring swarming of the brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)

Furmankiewicz, J.
March 2008
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Mar2008, Vol. 86 Issue 3, p207
Academic Journal
Swarming by bats is defined as intense autumnal flight activity in and near underground hibernation sites and is considered to be associated with mating, but this behaviour may also serve to allow bats to assess potential hibernacula. To test if swarms consist of resident bat populations from the surrounding area or transitional bat populations migrating between summer and winter areas, I measured activity patterns and the distribution of day roosts of swarming brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus (L., 1758)) at two abandoned mines in southwestern Poland. Swarming occurred from mid-August to mid-October, and also in March and April. The maximum population of swarming bats was estimated to be about 500 individuals. The sex ratio was male-biased and was more skewed in spring than in autumn. Bats frequently travelled to the swarming site from day roosts as far away as 31.5 km. They usually stayed for several hours before returning to a day roost without visiting other hibernacula. Males roosted closer to the swarming site and visited it more frequently than females, consistent with increased mating attempts. My results suggest that swarming sites are hot spots for populations resident in the surrounding area. They likely play an important role in gene flow and facilitate mating among bats from spatially isolated populations.


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