Bats may not dislike Forest Fires

Main point:

Bats usually don’t worry about the forest fires; even some bats find benefit in the effects of fire.

Bats may not dislike forest fires


Open access journal PLoS ONE published this finding.


Bats are among the major part of forest ecosystems, where they live as insect predators. Previously, scientists worked on the effects of the fire on a limited number of species most of them were birds.

“This is the first study to directly address species-level response by bats to stand-replacing fire, and our results show that moderate to high-severity fire has neutral or positive impacts on a suite of bat species,” Winifred Frick , Bat ecologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, said.

In this study, researchers conducted survey in an area of Sequoia and Inyo National Forests where the 2002 McNally Fire burned more than 150,000 acres leaving behind mixed forms of burned or unburned forest. They studied the search of bats for food in the different areas of unburned, moderately burned, and severely burned forest. They studied the ultrasonic echolocation pulses that bats use to hunt insects utilizing the high-frequency microphones in 2003 and found that the bats may find the areas productive.

“Bats could be resilient to this kind of natural disturbance,” she said. “We go out there and see a charred landscape and we think it’s totally destroyed, but the bats may find it a productive habitat for their needs.”

Researchers found that some species prefer to go for food in the burned areas and the reason behind this could be the reduced untidiness and increased accessibility to the prey and roosts after fire.

Researchers concluded, “Our results support the emerging perspective that naturally generated early successional habitats are essential on the landscape for a broad range of taxa and that processes like wildfire are instrumental in their maintenance.”


Buchalski, M., Fontaine, J., Heady, P., Hayes, J., & Frick, W. (2013). Bat Response to Differing Fire Severity in Mixed-Conifer Forest California, USA PLoS ONE, 8 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057884

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