Publication Details

Fire and bats in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic: more questions than answers?

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Carter, Timothy C.; Ford, W. Mark; Menzel, Michael A.

Year Published

2002

Publication

In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 139-143.

Abstract

The role and impact of fire in Southeastern ecosystems has changed dramatically from pre-European and early settlement times through present day. Regionally, pre-settlement fires were caused either by Native Americans throughout the year or by lighting-caused wildfires during the growing season. Today, much of the prescribed burning for forest and game management purposes occurs during the dormant or winter season in the South, whereas many ecological restoration or maintenance fires are conducted in the late dormant season through the growing season depending on the region and habitat type. Many bat species in the Southeast presumably have evolved in fire-dominated ecosystems with roosting strategies that limit their vulnerability to fire. Moreover, fire in any season that causes overstory tree mortality and creates snags suitable as bat roosts probably provide far more benefit to bats than do the negative impacts from burning. Dormant season burning may render tree/foliage-roosting bats vulnerable to fire in areas of the deep and mid-South where winter temperatures force prolonged periods of inactivity and roosts may be limited in highly fragmented or intensively managed forests. All bats that tree roost can be impacted by growing season burning if non-volant young are present. In the winter, cave-dwelling myotids seem the least vulnerable to negative impacts from wildfire and prescribed burning, although implications from the dramatic increase in late dormant-early growing season prescribed burning in the Appalachians and Interior Highlands to bats are unknown.

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Citation

Carter, Timothy C.; Ford, W. Mark; Menzel, Michael A. 2002. Fire and bats in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic: more questions than answers?. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 139-143.

Last updated on: December 28, 2008