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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Bat response to prescribed fire and overstory thinning in hardwood forest on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee

Published source details

Cox M.R., Willcox E.V., Keyser P.D. & Vander Yacht A.L. (2016) Bat response to prescribed fire and overstory thinning in hardwood forest on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee. Forest Ecology and Management, 359, 221-231


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Thin trees within forest and woodland Bat Conservation

A replicated, randomized, site comparison study in 2013–2014 of 10 hardwood tree stands in Tennessee, USA (Cox et al. 2016) found that thinned and burned tree stands had higher overall bat activity for three of four treatment types than untreated tree stands. Overall bat activity was higher in tree stands thinned to 14m2/ha and burned in the spring (average 656 bat passes) or autumn (292 bat passes) than untreated control stands (95 bat passes). However, tree stands thinned to 7m2/ha had higher bat activity than control stands when burned in the autumn (280 bat passes) but not in the spring (123 bat passes). Six groups of bat species were recorded (see original paper for data for individual species groups). The study does not distinguish between the effects of thinning and burning. Each of four treatments (thinning to 7 or 14 m2/ha with burning in the autumn or spring) was randomly applied to two tree stands (20 ha, 80–100 years old). Two tree stands were untreated controls (average 20 m2/ha). Overstorey thinning was carried out in June 2008 and prescribed fires in October 2010 and 2012 (autumn) and March 2011 and 2013 (spring). Each of 10 stands was surveyed with a bat detector for seven full nights on three occasions in May–July 2013 and 2014.

(Summarised by Anna Berthinussen)

Use prescribed burning Bat Conservation

A replicated, randomized, site comparison study in 2013–2014 of 10 hardwood tree stands in Tennessee, USA (Cox et al. 2016) found that burned and thinned tree stands had higher overall bat activity for three of four treatment types than untreated tree stands. Overall bat activity was higher in tree stands burned in the autumn and thinned to 7m2/ha (average 280 bat passes) or 14m2/ha (292 bat passes) than untreated control tree stands (95 bat passes). Tree stands burned in the spring had higher bat activity than controls stands when thinned to 14m2/ha (656 bat passes) but not 7m2/ha (123 bat passes). Six groups of bat species were recorded (see original paper for data for individual species groups). The study does not distinguish between the effects of burning and thinning. Each of four treatments (burning in the autumn or spring with thinning to 7 or 14 m2/ha) was randomly applied to two tree stands (20 ha, 80–100 years old). Two tree stands were untreated controls (average 20 m2/ha). Overstorey thinning was carried out in June 2008 and prescribed fires in October 2010 and 2012 (autumn) and March 2011 and 2013 (spring). Each of 10 stands was surveyed with a bat detector for seven full nights on three occasions in May–July 2013 and 2014.

(Summarised by Anna Berthinussen)