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Impact of Woodland Coppicing on Bats

The problem

Several of our UK bat species are woodland specialists, utilising denser areas of vegetation for foraging. At the other end of the scale, some bat species prefer foraging in open habitat. Current research has shown that clear-fell harvesting of coniferous woodland in upland Britain increases the levels of activity from certain species of bat; those more associated with open habitats. To date, there is very little information on the direct impacts of the common woodland management practice of coppicing on bat species composition, diversity, and activity.

The solution

Over the next six years, a collaborative project will take place at two woodland sites within Cambridgeshire; one woodland that is in an active 14-year coppice rotation and the other that has been unmanaged for several decades but is now to be brought into a coppice rotation. To test the hypothesis that changing the structure of a woodland as a result of coppicing affects the species of bats utilising the area in the short-term, the team will use static detectors to monitor bat populations at both sites in before-after-control scenarios.

If it is found that woodland coppicing alters the activity, diversity, and species composition of bats within the study compartments, such information could help inform future woodland management plans.

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