BSc (Hons.) Biology, University of Leeds
MRes Biosystematics, Imperial College London
Start Date: 1st November 2012
3A124C, Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Scotland, FK9 4LA
How do silvicultural practices influence bat populations in commercial coniferous plantations
My PhD is looking at the role that commercial coniferous plantations may play in supporting bat populations throughout the UK, and looking at how management may affect bats. Currently very little is known about what species of bat will use coniferous plantations or how they are being used but as coniferous forests represent over half of Britain’s total forest area they could be an important resource for bats. Although most studies show that bats avoid coniferous plantations these conclusions are drawn from habitat surveys which compare prime habitats such as semi ancient native woodlands with coniferous plantations and as such may be inappropriate comparisons. Most coniferous plantations in the UK are planted on poor degraded agricultural soil or in upland heathland areas and so may be more useful to some bat species than the alternative degraded landscape.
Commercial coniferous plantations in the UK consist primarily of Sitka Spruce dominated stands interspersed with other tree species such as Larch, Pine and Norway Spruce. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future so this PhD is concentrated in large, predominantly Sitka Spruce plantations throughout West Scotland, North England and North Wales. This work is funded jointly by Stirling University and the Forestry Commission as part of an IMPACT scholarship.
Initially I aim to establish some baseline data by identifying which species are using the plantation, and which areas of the plantation are important. This will be carried out using acoustic monitoring and mist net / harp trapping. I will also look at the impact that clearcut felling has on bat use of the plantation. Additionally I will collect data on invertebrate availability in different stand areas and relate to the bat diet. Finally I will use radio telemetry to identify roost sites and further understand bat use of coniferous plantations.
I have previously completed my Masters in Research in biosystematics and the role of evolutionary processes in the natural world continues to fascinate me. I have worked extensively with bats since 2005 on projects such as coronaviral transmission in West African leaf nosed bats, swarming in the UK and Europe, conduct regular hibernation checks and assisted on a study with Myotis alcathoe in Sussex following their discovery in the UK and am fascinated by all aspects of bat biology and behaviour. I have previously worked in agricultural research and am particularly interested in research with an applied element, particularly when relating to conservation.
Kirkpatrick, L. How do silvicultural practices affect bat populations in commercial coniferous landscapes? SBES Postgraduate Symposium, University of Stirling, 16 – 19 Jan 2013
Kirkpatrick, L. How do silvicultural practices affect bat populations in commercial coniferous landscapes? BritBats II, Bristol Zoo, 23 March 2013