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Research examines how insect outbreaks affect forests and bats

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IMAGE: Beauty and the beast: how a bat utilizes forests shaped by outbreaks of an insect pest. view more 

Credit: Credit-Simon Thorn-Animal Conservation- b_barbastellus (2).jpg

New research indicates that bark beetle outbreaks in forests create several new roosting and foraging possibilities for the protected bat species Barbastella barbastellus.

For example, maternity colonies of B. barbastellus were found beneath bark of beetle-killed spruces. Also, hunting activity of B. barbastellus increased with more extensive canopy opening due to bark beetles.

The findings have important implications for forest management. The standard management response to natural disturbances such as windstorms and insect outbreaks is salvage logging, or the removal of affected trees; however, this may have detrimental effects on species of conservation concern.

"Bark beetle outbreaks transformed former production forests into a growing wilderness that offers great possibilities for the conservation of the barbastelle bat," said Mareike Kortmann, lead author of the Animal Conservation study.

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