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Feeding Ecology of Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) during Pregnancy and Lactation. I. Foraging Behaviour

P. A. Racey and S. M. Swift
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 54, No. 1 (Feb., 1985), pp. 205-215
DOI: 10.2307/4631
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4631
Page Count: 11
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Feeding Ecology of Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) during Pregnancy and Lactation. I. Foraging Behaviour
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Abstract

(1) Individual P. pipistrellus marked with reflective tape and chemiluminescent tags foraged among riparian trees and in parkland within 100 m of water. (2) In a lowland agricultural area where the habitat suitable for foraging was extensive, the mean distance between the roost and marked bats during pregnancy was 1.8 km and the maximum recorded distance was 5.1 km. The distances were reduced to 1.3 km and 3.7 km respectively during lactation. (3) In an upland area, bats foraged in all habitats where insects were abundant both before and after parturition. The average distance between the roost and foraging sites was 1.0 km and the maximum distance 2.5 km during both pregnancy and lactation. (4) Pipistrelles moved between foraging sites on a regular route, and were sighted at the same time and place on successive nights. (5) Pipistrelles left the roost and travelled between foraging sites in groups of between two and six individuals, and `following' behaviour involving two bats was frequently observed. (6) Bats foraged on beats which were seldom defended. Intra-specific aggression was evident only at low insect densities, and at high insect densities large numbers of bats foraged in small areas without showing any overt aggression. (7) The rate at which P. pipistrellus attacked insects was proportional to insect density until a maximum rate of 10 `feeding buzzes' per minute was reached. Bats did not remain in an area or attempt to forage if the insect density was less than 300 1000-3 m. (8) Juvenile P. pipistrellus moved progressively further from the roost over a 3 week period after they first began to fly, and the recorded rate of attempted feeding also increased progressively during this period.

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