The effect of bark beetle infestation and salvage logging on bat activity in a national park
Salvage logging—the removal of dead trees in disturbed forest stands—has been controversially discussed. We investigated the impact of bark beetle attacks and subsequent salvage logging on insectivorous bats in a temperate mountain forest. We quantified bat activity (25,373 min counts; 32 plots) using batcorders during 221 all-night surveys in stands killed by bark beetles, with dead trees removed or not, and in vital, single- or multi-layered mature forest stands. We analysed the differences in activity of all bats in general and of bats of foraging guilds (open habitat, forest edge, closed habitat) in these habitats using a generalized linear Poisson mixed model, with plot and observation as random factors, and temperature and habitat as fixed factors. Only open-habitat foragers were slightly more active in salvage-logged stands than in bark-beetle-affected stands; they generally benefited from an open forest canopy, whereas closed-habitat foragers did not. Our results indicated that: (1) bats are less affected by salvage logging after a disturbance of a magnitude typical for European forests, probably because enough roosts are present in surrounding areas, (2) habitats for open foragers are improved by bark beetle infestation and (3) bats are poor bioindicators of negative impacts of salvage logging after natural disturbance in forests with a composition typical for Central Europe.