Bats are a significant component of forest biodiversity. Most BC bat species rely on mature or old forest for roosting and foraging. Eight of our 16 species are considered at risk, 3 are Identified Wildlife species under the Forest and Range Practices Act.; several are being considered for Regionally Significant Wildlife designation. Field identification of some of these species can be difficult. This project will develop and test methods to identify, inventory, and evaluate habitat requirements of forest bat species, many of which are listed or regionally significant, enabling development of habitat management recommendations on a species- or group-specific basis. Although the species are difficult to identify, new technologies (recent DNA research and acoustic analysis software) offer new possibilities for field identification, and could make inventory work much more cost-effective. Background: BC has four species of long-eared myotis bats: Keen?s Long-eared Myotis, Myotis keenii (provincially Red-listed), Northern Long-eared Myotis, M. septentrionalis (Blue-listed), Western Long-eared Myotis, M. evotis (Yellow-listed, conservation concern), and Fringed Myotis, M. thysanodes (Blue-listed). All are forest bats. The long-eared bats, because of their ear and wing morphology, are adapted to aerial foraging, surface gleaning, and manoeuvrable flight in forested landscapes (Faure and Barclay 1992). They are primarily found in coniferous habitats, and may be important predators of forest pests. Keen?s Long-eared Myotis is Red-listed (considered for designation as Endangered or Threatened). It is a forest bat whose range is restricted to the coastal forests of BC, NW Washington and SE Alaska. It is listed in the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy (IWMS) 2004, and regarded as associated with mature/old growth forests. Fringed Myotis, found in the southern interior and southwestern BC, is also included in IWMS 2004. Both Keen?s and Fringed Myotis were recently designated Data Deficient by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), pending better population and habitat inventory, which cannot be conducted until identification issues are resolved. The problem: Identification of these species during field inventory and surveys. In-hand identification of Keen?s and Western Long-eared (found across southern BC), sympatric on the BC coast, is unreliable from external morphology, and identification requires either examination of the skull from a voucher specimen, or DNA sequencing. The range of Northern Long-eared Myotis, which is found in the northern two-thirds of the province and at least as far west as Hazelton, overlaps Western but rarely Keen?s; in overlap areas this species can also be confusing. Fringed Myotis is also found on the coast; it can be confused with the other coastal long-eared species and is quite different than interior populations of Fringed. Also, new research suggests that a cryptic species of long-eared bat, currently included in the species complex of Little Brown Myotis (M. lucifugus) occurs in coastal BC. Recent DNA studies (Dewey 2005) identified Keen?s as an identifiable clade; additional work is required to clarify relationships of the other long-eared species, to confirm status of Keen?s, and to determine the best method of species identification. Developing reliable field identification for long-eared myotis is essential for management and conservation. For example, correct identification of Keen?s Long-eared (Red-listed and old/mature forest-associated) and Western Long-eared (Yellow-listed and broader in its habitat associations) is critical to assess presence of either species and thus make appropriate management recommendations. Since Keen?s Long-eared Myotis and Fringed Myotis are both listed species and IWMS species, identification difficulties are hindering inventory of and research on these species, and thus preventing development of effective management recommendati ...
Friis, Laura. 2008. Identification of long-eared myotis bat species in British Columbia: An essential tool for developing management recommendations for bat species at risk. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2008MR059
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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