The Canyon Bat is one of the many bat species that can be found on the Landmarks, as they establish their homes in deserts, woodland, and shrubland habitats. Canyon Bats are not known to migrate far distances and often stay in the same area throughout the year, roosting in burrows, among boulders or cracks and crevices of rocks. This bat species is identified by their dark face, ears and wings, with light-colored fur that can range from a pale yellow to orange-yellow and gray-brown.
Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s mission to protect, restore and preserve Orange County’s urban wildlands also extends to the native animal species that are found across the Landmarks. IRC staff recently teamed up with Dilly Hoyt, a master’s student from the University of Exeter, UK, to investigate the effects of wildfire on bats within the Mediterranean-type ecosystems of southern California. The research focused on 11 bat species living in oak woodland, chaparral, scrub and grassland habitats on the Landmarks and used acoustic detectors to collect data relating to the echolocation calls of bats across the landscape.
“Our main findings showed the importance of these oak habitats, where bat activity was significantly greater as compared to any other habitat type,” said Dilly. “In addition to this, we found that too frequent wildfire can have negative effects on some bats, where their activity is reduced in areas that burn more frequently, although this is also dependent on the habitat type. So, although fire is important in maintaining fire-adapted ecosystems like the ones managed by IRC, too frequent wildfire can have devastating consequences for all biodiversity, not just bats!”
Dilly’s research also found that the canyon bat’s activity on the Landmarks decreased in areas closer to roads in addition to being vulnerable to the effects of too frequent wildfire, causing activity to be significantly reduced within scrub habitats that burn frequently.
For more information about native wildlife on the Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.