Distribution and activity of bats at local and landscape scales within a rural-urban gradient

Joshua B. Johnson, J. Edward Gates, W. Mark Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We examined the relationship between bat species activity and composition and the extent of forest cover and urbanization in and adjacent to 11 U.S. National Park Service, National Capital Region Parks in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., from 2003-2004, using mist nets, harp traps, acoustical detectors, and visual observations in a variety of habitats. Our efforts included 363 trap nights across 74 sites along with acoustical sampling at 362 sites. We captured 383 bats and identified 6,380 echolocation passes of 6 species. Both overall and species-specific activities were affected more by forest fragmentation within parks than by urbanization adjacent to parks. With an ability to exploit anthropogenic structures for day-roosts, big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) were the most ubiquitous and probably the most abundant species in NCR Parks, particularly in forested, urban parks. Northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), and to a lesser extent, little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) were more prevalent in forested, rural parks of the Ridge and Valley and Blue Ridge than in eastern, less forested urban parks of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces. Retention of larger, residual forest tracts and day-roosting habitat (i.e., trees and snags) would be beneficial to most species, as urban expansion continues throughout the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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