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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

EFFECTS OF TEMPERATURE, HUMIDITY, AND PRESSURE ON CAPTURE RATES OF BATS IN FLAT CREEK NATURE AREA, FAYETTE COUNTY, GEORGIA

Abstract

Bats are increasingly recognized as critical members of almost every ecosystem they inhabit and, because of their volant nature and the abundance of prey, bats are virtually ubiquitous in their distribution. However, there is still much to be learned about the ecology, physiology, and activity patterns of many bat species. For instance, ambient temperature and relative humidity have the potential to influence not only the activity of their insect prey but also the thermoregulatory challenges that bats face while foraging and commuting, but the effect of humidity, temperature, and other weather-related factors on flight activity has not been well documented. To better understand the influence of weather conditions on bat activity in Fayette County, GA, we surveyed bats and used linear regression and correlation to examine the relationships between nightly weather variables and captures. We used mist nets to sample bats in Flat Creek Nature Area between June 16 and September 15, 2016 and archived weather data from a nearby airport weather station for each sample night. We captured 75 bats and confirmed the presence of five species in the nature area. Average temperatures during our sample periods ranged from 72℉ - 80℉, relative humidity ranged from 53% - 100%, and barometric pressure from 29.87 to 30.22 in Hg. Temperature and humidity were strongly correlated (r2 = 0.69), but were not correlated with barometric pressure (r2 < 0.003). Assuming higher bat activity corresponds with higher captures, regression analyses did not indicate any influence of temperature or humidity on bat activity, but regression results suggest that barometric pressure is a significant predictor variable and that bat captures decline on nights with higher average barometric pressure. Previous researchers have observed that higher barometric pressure correlates with lower insect activity and influences bat activity so our results have a biological basis and empirical support. However, additional research is required to determine if the barometric pressure differences we observed are related to actual differences in insect abundance in Flat Creek Nature Area.

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