Parks and other protected lands can provide important source habitat and act as valuable dispersal corridors in urbanizing environments. However, most wetlands within protected areas are managed in isolation without consideration of the broader landscape connections. We studied the importance of wetland habitat connectivity and landscape context to bat activity in five National Parks along a gradient of increasing urbanization within the Mid-Atlantic United States. Ninety-six Anabat stations were set up throughout the parks, from which we derived the characteristic spatial scales at which bat activity was associated with wetlands. This information was used in a graph theoretic framework to construct network models of potential landscape connectivity for those species that had positive associations with wetland land cover. We found that the importance of wetlands as a predictor of bat activity varied on a species-by-species basis and increased when network measures were used that accounted for connected area in a broad spatial context. The results demonstrate that both area and connectivity of wetland foraging habitat may act as orthogonal variables to availability of roosting habitat in explaining the distribution of highly mobile species. We use the results to illustrate the value of network analysis to guide the coordinated management of two of the parks' most valued natural resources - wetlands and bats.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation