Zoological Studies

Vol. 55, 2016

(update: 2016.5.31)

Habitat Preferences of Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus (Leach, 1825) and Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Schreber, 1774) in Two Different Woodlands in North East Scotland

Alek Rachwald1,*, Tim Bradford2, Zbigniew Borowski1, and Paul A. Racey3

1Forest Research Institute, Department of Forest Ecology, Sękocin Stary, 3 Braci Leśnej Str, 00-176 Raszyn, Poland
2WYG Group, Arndale Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS6 2UJ, UK
3School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, Scotland, UK

(Received 12 January 2015; Accepted 25 January 2016)

Alek Rachwald, Tim Bradford, Zbigniew Borowski, and Paul A. Racey (2016) The habitat preferences of the soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus  and the common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus living in sympatry, were investigated in north east Scotland, using bat detector transects. Bat flight, foraging and social activity in natural birch woodland was compared with that in managed non-native coniferous woodland. Each area consists of riparian habitat, meadow-forest ecotone and dense forest. The activity of bats was highest in riparian habitat, then meadow, and lowest in dense woodland. P. pygmaeus was more abundant than P. pipistrellus in both areas, although in managed coniferous woodland only narrowly so (43.7% of all recorded bat flights, compared to 40.0% for common pipistrelle). In natural birch woodland, meadow habitat was most preferred by P. pipistrellus, and there was no significant difference between the use of riparian and woodland habitats, whereas in coniferous woodland, riparian habitat was most preferred. P. pygmaeus in both sites preferred riparian habitat, then meadow and forest least of all. The foraging activity of soprano pipistrelles was higher in birch than in coniferous woodland, whereas for the common pipistrelle, it was more evenly distributed. In both sites the lowest number of feeding buzzes was recorded in dense forest. In both study areas social calls were recorded, but many more for P. pygmaeus than for P. pipistrellus, especially in birch woodland. Soprano pipistrelle is a specialist species, focused mostly on riparian habitat, whereas common pipistrelle shows more generalistic behaviour. High number of social calls  recorded near the waterbodies could suggest, that such habitat partitioning could be caused also by competitive behaviour.

Key words: Bats, Scotland, Soprano pipistrelle, Common pipistrelle, Woodland.

*Correspondence: Tel: 0048-608402434. Fax: 0048-227150507. E-mail: a.rachwald@ibles.waw.pl

Vol. 55, 2016