River and riparian areas provide an important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats owing to high insect availability along waterways. However, structural characteristics of the riverine landscape may also influence the location of foraging bats. We used bat detectors to compare bat activity longitudinally along river reaches with contrasting channel confinement, ratio of valley floor width to active channel width, and riparian vegetation, and laterally with distance from the river along three different reach types. We measured rates of insect emergence from the river and aerial insect availability above the river and laterally up to 50-m into the riparian habitat in order to assess the relationship between food resources and insectivorous bat activity. Longitudinally, bat activity was concentrated along confined reaches in comparison to unconfined reaches but was not related to insect availability. Laterally, bats tracked exponential declines in aquatic insects with distance from the river. These data suggest that along the lateral dimension bats track food resources, but that along the longitudinal dimension channel shape and landscape structure determine bat distributions more than food resources.
- Channel confinement
- Riparian vegetation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics