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  Ecology, Management and Conservation in Natural and Modified Habitats
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Information on population trends and biological constraints from bat counts in roost cavities: a twenty two-year case study of an hibernaculum of Pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Schreber).

Christian Kerbiriou, Jean François Julien, Sophie Monsarrat, Philippe Lustrat, Alexandre Haquart, Alexandre Robert


Context: According to the current trend of biodiversity loss, information on population trends on large time and space scales is necessary; however, well-documented animal population dynamics are generally based on intensive protocols requiring animal manipulation, which can be impossible to conduct in species for which conservation is a concern. Aims: For many bat species, an alternative approach entails performing an appropriate analysis of counts in roost cavities. Because of manager’s perception of chaotic variations through time, relatively few count monitoring surveys are regularly analysed. Here, we present the analysis of a twenty two-year survey of a large hibernaculum of pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) located in a railway tunnel in Paris, France. Methods: We propose that using combinations of population dynamics modelling even with demographic parameters from the literature and statistical analyses helps with identifying the biological and methodological effects in census analyses. Key results: we determined that some of the observed year-to-year variations of population size cannot be explained only by the intrinsic dynamics of the population. In particular, in 1993-1994, the population size increased by >40%, which should have implied a massive immigration. This change coincided with the end of the operation of the railway line. After consideration of a drastic trend of population decline (7%/year) we were able to detect this event and several environmental effects. Specifically, the winter conditions and the temperature in July have effects on the colony size, presumably because of aggregative behaviour and reproduction success, respectively. Conclusions: Emigration-immigration processes might have preponderant effects on population dynamics. In addition, we show that the population studied suffer a large decline and we were able to assess the effects of human disturbance or meteorological variation. Implications: To conduct a meaningful analysis of such a time series and provide a source of data for implementing biodiversity indicators, it is necessary (i) to include the local knowledge of the people involved in the field surveys in these analyses (the existence of disturbances and site protections) and (ii) to include climate information for the appropriate seasons of the year.

WR13220  Accepted 24 February 2014
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