Proximity to humans is a primary stressor for wildlife, especially in urban habitats where frequent disturbance may occur. Several bat species often roost in buildings but while the effects of disturbance inside the roost are well documented, little is known about those occurring in the proximity of roosts. We tested the effects of anthropogenic stressors on bats by monitoring reactions to disturbance in a colony of greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum). We assessed disturbance by recording and quantifying the presence of people, domestic cats and noise sources near the roost. Disturbance outside the roost caused the disruption of roosting clusters; when cats entered the roost, bats decreased indoor flight activity. Emergence timing was delayed when people were close to the roost exit, and the delay increased along with the number of people. The occurrence of a cat increased the degree of group clustering during emergence. Cats entered the roost especially when young bats were present, and bat remains occurred in 30% of the cat scats we examined. We show that the occurence of human activities near roosts and free-ranging domestic cats are important albeit overlooked sources of disturbance.
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