Spring is finally here and hopefully, we will soon be seeing more bats around Grounds. In order to identify where we can find bats, the challenge is to identify where bats are most likely to be found on Grounds. It’s most likely that we have to look for them in the locations that contain natural elements that support bats. As close as we could get is to learn more about specific features of urban landscape for bats, and go from there. By being able to identify these bat-friendly landscapes, we can further seek to protect, maintain and enhance these landscapes, which are likely to possess rich ecological value. The biodiverse multi-functional green infrastructure that attracts bats will also support other wildlife and provide a wide range of ecosystem services.
Research on urban landscape for bats gives us a good starting point for looking at specific locations on Grounds. According to the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Bat Conservation Trust in the UK, landscapes can be divided into three major themes based on three main activities that bats do. The book describes bats as “long-lived, social animals that use the landscape intensively for foraging, roosting and commuting”(Gunnell & Williams 2012).
In this blog, we will focus on the aspects of landscapes that provide hunting grounds or foraging habitats. Foraging is an important aspect when considering a particular landscape. Because bats feed on insects, which in turn are supported by vegetation, the landscapes that are rich in native vegetation are likely to support higher diversity of bats and wildlife (Gunnell & Williams 2012).
After surveying around the Grounds to assess certain elements based upon the guidelines in the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Gunnell and Dr. Williams, we came up with a set of locations that might serve as the sites for further studies about bats on the Grounds. The locations are arranged based upon specific landscape elements they exhibits as following:
The quiet places such as the area around the Pavillion and gardens along the serpentine walls have a wide range of trees, flowers and plants. These mixtures of natural elements attract a diversity of insects, the food resource that in turn sustains bats.
Dry stone walls
The serpentine walls surrounding the UVa. Pavillion can create valuable habitats and micro-climates that benefit bats during the summer. Lichens, mosses and other plants are likely to be found along the serpentine walls where they provide a shelter area for insects.
Some small woodlands with mature trees can be found around the Grounds. These places can also provide hunting ground for bats.
The recreational areas and grass field beside Perry-Fishburne Tennis Courts (located in the area known as the Dell) can be considered as a small open habitat that has potential to support bats. The place has a range of trees and shrubs and flowers along a creek that attracts insects.
Freshwater is an important resource for bats as they need to drink from open water. In addition, some species also forage on emerging insects. The rain garden in the Dell area (near Lambeth House) and the Meadow Creek, which brings water from the top of Observatory Hill to the rain garden provides a perfect wetland. There are also native grasses and wildflowers along the creek.
In our next post, we will discuss the way that we are planning to accommodate bats around Grounds.
Gunnell, K., Grant, G. and Williams, C. 2012.
Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity. Bat Conservation Trust
Post by Peeratham Techapalokul, Fourth-Year, Interdisciplinary Major in Computer Science