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During autumn in the temperate zone of both the new and old world, bats of many species assemble at underground sites in a behaviour known as swarming. Autumn swarming behaviour is thought to primarily serve as a promiscuous mating system, but may also be related to the localization and assessment of hibernacula. Bats subsequently make use of the same underground sites during winter hibernation, however it is currently unknown if the assemblages that make use of a site are comparable across swarming and hibernation seasons. Our purpose was to characterize the bat assemblages found at five underground sites during both the swarming and the hibernation season and compare the assemblages found during the two seasons both across sites and within species. We found that the relative abundance of individual species per site, as well as the relative proportion of a species that makes use of each site, were both significantly correlated between the swarming and hibernation seasons. These results suggest that swarming may indeed play a role in the localization of suitable hibernation sites. Additionally, these findings have important conservation implications, as this correlation can be used to improve monitoring of underground sites and predict the importance of certain sites for rare and cryptic bat species.
Bats -- Hibernation, Swarming (Zoology)
van Schaik, Jaap; Janssen, René; and Bosch, Thijs, "Bats swarm where they hibernate: compositional similarity between autumn swarming and winter hibernation assemblages at five underground sites" (2015). KIP Articles. 399.