Pressure to increase food production poses a challenge for biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes. Previous studies suggest that one potential way to enhance biodiversity without taking land out of production is to increase the landscape heterogeneity of farmland by increasing the diversity of crop types in the landscape, and/or the complexity of the spatial pattern of the crop fields (e.g., by decreasing field sizes). Thus we hypothesize that farmland heterogeneity should also increase bat abundance and richness in agricultural landscapes. Here, we use data on bat activity and richness collected using acoustic surveys in rural eastern Ontario, Canada to test the predictions that there should be greater bat activity and greater species richness in agricultural landscapes with higher Shannon diversity of crops and smaller fields, when controlling for the effect of total crop cover. Bat activity increased with farmland heterogeneity, as predicted. Farmland heterogeneity was also positively related to species richness, although the relationship was not statistically supported. Positive effects of farmland heterogeneity on bats will be of interest to farmers and agricultural policy-makers, given the potential economic benefits of pest control by bats.

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Keywords Agri-environment scheme, Agriculture, Chiroptera, Ecosystem service, Landscape complexity, Landscape heterogeneity
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Journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Monck-Whipp, L. (Liv), Martin, A.E. (Amanda E.), Francis, C.M. (Charles M.), & Fahrig, L. (2018). Farmland heterogeneity benefits bats in agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 253, 131–139. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2017.11.001