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Research paper examining the microbat populations present on wool properties of the New England Tablelands NSW. More evidence of the importance of the habitat provided by isolated paddock trees...many of which are veteran trees.
Research paper examining the microbat populations present on wool properties of the New England Tablelands NSW. More evidence of the importance of the habitat provided by isolated paddock trees...many of which are veteran trees.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Veteran Tree Group Australia on Dec 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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on New England wool propertieson New England wool propertieson New England wool properties
Why are batsimportant?
Small, insect-eating bats (‘microbats’)fulfil an important role on woolproperties, that of natural pestcontrol. Microbats eat a wide range ofinvertebrates, predominantly moths,beetles and bugs, with some speciesalso consuming mosquitoes,grasshoppers and crickets. Individualmicrobats can consume up to half theirbody weight in insects in a night.Without their services, insectpopulations could explode!Microbats differ in size and shape andwhere and how they prefer to hunt, sotheir diet varies accordingly. Thefreetail bats have long, narrow wingsand fly fast and high above trees.Others with broader wings are able tofly below the canopy and pick insectsoff leaves and branches. The morespecies and numbers of bats, the betterthe pest control service they perform.
How manydifferent kinds of bats are there?
Australia-wide, there are more than 70species of bat, with quite a few yet tobe formally described by scientists. TheLand, Water & Wool (LWW) Northern
Common Name Latin Name Diet* Abund-ance**Microbats
Broad-nosed bat oreastern falsistrelle
sp.Beetles, slow-flyinginsects0.42Chocolate wattled bat
Chalinolobus morio
Predominantly mothswith some beetles0.58Common bentwing bat
Predominantly moths 0.27Eastern cave or littleforest bat
Vespadelus pumilus
V. vulturnus
 Small flying insects(e.g. moths, beetles,bugs, mosquitoes)3.94Eastern freetail bat
sp. 2 Bugs and flying ants 0.01Freetail bat
sp. 4 Probably bugs ***Gould’s wattled bat
Chalinolobus gouldii
Moths, beetles, bugs,flies and locusts6.79Large forest bat
Vespadelus darlingtoni
Small flying insects(e.g. moths, beetles,bugs, mosquitoes,flying ants)1.55Little broad-nosed bat
Scotorepens greyii
Ants, termites,crickets, bugs, beetles,flies and moths0.17Long-eared bat
Wide variety of flyingand flightless insects0.83Southern forest bat
Vespadelus regulus
Moths, beetles, flies,mosquitoes, ants, bugs1.63White-striped freetailbat
Tadarida australis
Moths, beetles, bugs,grasshoppers0.75Yellow-belliedsheathtail bat
Saccolaimus flaviventris
Mainly beetles, plusgrasshoppers and bugs0.17Little red flying fox
Pteropus scapulatus
Predominantly nectarand blossom***
Fruit bats
* Source: Strahan (1995), Churchill (1998).** Average number of passes per evening of each species (definite identifications only)across all habitats on LWW Monitor farms.*** Only recorded on one Case Study farm in 2002-03.
Table 1. The bats recorded by the LWW Northern Tablelands Project on 18 Monitor and Case Study wool properties in the summers of 2002-03 and 2004-05. Above—Gould’s wattled bat, the mostwidespread and abundant microbat onNew England wool properties.Below—Common bentwing bat. Above—Gould’s long-eared bat
Nyctophilus gouldi
 ), one of several long-eared bat species in southern New England  farmland.Below—Chocolate wattled bat. Photo—Lindy Lumsden.
The background, objectives and outcomes of this project are summarised at: www.landwaterwool.gov.au (Product number: PF030479)
A technical guideA technical guideA technical guide
Land, Water & WoolLand, Water & WoolLand, Water & Wool Northern TablelandsNorthern TablelandsNorthern TablelandsProject Fact SheetProject Fact SheetProject Fact Sheet
Below—The lesser long-eared bat
Nyctophilus geoffroyi
 ) is one of the long-eared bats found in farmland in southernNew England.Below—Little forest bat. Photo—Lindy Lumsden.
Tablelands Project (2002-06) (NSW)recorded at least 13 different species ofmicrobat on wool properties in southernNew England, as well as a large fruitbat, the little red flying-fox, over twosummers (Table 1).
How common arethey?
Bats are common on New England woolproperties even though most people areunaware of them. The LWW NorthernTablelands Project recorded microbatson all 18 wool properties surveyed inthe summers of 2002-03 and 2004-05. Aminimum of 2 species and a maximumof 9 species (average 6 species) ofmicrobat were recorded per property.
Why don’t we hearmore about bats?
Microbats often go unnoticed becausethey are small, mostly silent (to ourears at least), only feed at night andhide in roosts during the day. Theyroost in hollows and crevices in trees,under loose bark and in farm buildingsand caves, so we tend not to see them.Our understanding of bats is not asadvanced as of other Australianmammals, and we are only starting toappreciate just how valuable thesenative animals are to farmers. We arestill building libraries of the calls andsorting out the taxonomy of thedifferent species, hence the uncertaintyin Table 1 about some of the speciesrecorded on New England farms.
Where are batsfound on NewEngland farms?
Microbats favour timber and surfacewater on New England wool properties(Figs 1 & 2).In the LWW research, riparian timberwas the preferred habitat for mostspecies, with an average of 4 speciesand 115 microbat passes per evening.Open treeless pasture was the leastfavoured habitat, with an average ofonly 1 species and 11 passes perevening.Scattered large trees and youngwindbreaks in pasture held somesurprises. Microbats were almost asabundant and diverse around paddocktrees as riparian timber, with anaverage of over 3 species and 71 passesper evening in the vicinity of scatteredtrees in pasture.Although the windbreaks we sampledwere only 10-15 years old, they
Figure 1. The average number of species of microbat (± 1 s.e.m.) detected by Anabatrecordings in different habitats on southern New England Monitor wool properties insummer 2004-05. Scattered trees were areas with projected foliage cover of trees < 10%; projected foliage cover of trees in dense timber was ≥ 10%. Sample sizes: open pasture(n = 18); windbreaks (n = 10); scattered trees (n = 17); dense timber (n = 16); ripariantimber (n = 10).
   N  o .  o   f  s  p  e  c   i  e  s   /  s   i   t  e
Figure 2. The average number of passes by all microbats (± 1 s.e.m.) detected by Anabatrecordings in different habitats in southern New England, summer 2004-05. Sample sizesas in Figure 1.
   N  o .  o   f  p  a  s  s  e  s   /  e  v  e  n   i  n
Table 2. The abundance of 12 microbats on Monitor farms in various habitats on southernNew England, summer 2004-05. Only definite records are included.
attracted significantly more microbatpasses (43/evening) than openpasture. Some windbreaks were purelynative trees and shrubs and otherswere a mix of native and introducedspecies.
Do all bats like thesame habitats?
You’ve heard the adage, ‘horses forcourses’. Well, various bats preferdifferent habitats, too (Table 2).In the LWW research on local woolproperties, six microbats were mostfrequently recorded in riparian timber:broad-nosed bat or pipistrelle,common bentwing-bat, eastern orlittle forest bat, freetail-bat (sp. 2),large forest bat, and the long-earedbat.Two microbats were most frequent indense timber: the southern forest batand the yellow-bellied sheathtail bat.Three microbats were most frequentaround scattered pasture trees:chocolate and Gould’s wattled bats,and the little broad-nosed bat.And one bat was most frequent aroundyoung windbreaks: the white-stripedfreetail-bat.No species was most frequent intreeless pasture, but the fewmicrobats recorded in open pasturewere almost all Gould’s wattled bat.Thus for maximum diversity ofmicrobats, a mix of wooded habitats infarmland is best, including plantedwindbreaks, old scattered paddocktrees, dense timber and woodedcreeks and streams.Note that in comparison to treelesspasture (Figs 1 & 2), any mature treesor on-farm timber will attractsignificantly more species and numbersof bats. Even young windbreaks willincrease the numbers of bats in openpasture.
For maximum diversity of microbats,a mix of wooded habitats in farmlandis best, including plantedwindbreaks, old scattered paddocktrees, dense timber and woodedcreeks and streams.
Microbat survey methods
Microbats were surveyed on the threeCase Study farms in the summer of2002-03 (Fact Sheet 6) and on 17Monitor farms between November2004 and January 2005. We usedelectronic (‘Anabat’) detectors atnight to record the ultrasonic calls ofmicrobats. Each call represents one‘pass’ of a microbat flying near therecorder.In 2004-05, 71 sites stratified byhabitat were surveyed across 17Monitor farms. On some farms, werecorded up to 427 passes bymicrobats in an evening (21:00-06:30hours) of ultrasonic recording.Recordings were identified bycomparison with a library ofrecordings compiled by G. Ford insouthern Queensland and northernNSW.
Ave. No. of Passes per Evening
Broad-nosed bat orpipistrelle0 0 0.5 0.5 1.3Chocolate wattled bat 0 0.3 1.5 0.7 0.1Common bentwing-bat 0 0 0.2 0.5 0.8Eastern or little forest bat 0.1 2.3 4.5 5.9 8.5Freetail-bat sp. 2 0 0 0 0 0.1Gould's wattled bat 4.4 1.6 16.5 2.7 6.2Large forest bat 0 0.5 1.1 2.4 4.8Little broad-nosed bat 0 0 0.5 0.1 0.2Long-eared bat 0.1 0.3 1.1 0.8 2.3Southern forest bat 0 0.6 1.5 3.4 3.0White-stripedfreetail-bat0.6 2.2 0.4 0.6 0.3Yellow-belliedsheathtail-bat0 0 0.2 0.4 0.2
Below—A Gould’s wattled bat roost tree.Inset—The actual roost site. Photos—Lindy Lumsden.Below—Lesser long-eared batmaternity roost. Photo—Lindy Lumsden.

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