Temperate bat species are well-known predators of nocturnal insects; however, their role in forest nutrient cycling is unclear. We tested the “nutrient hot spot” hypothesis, which suggests that colonial bats should create nutrient peaks in and around their roosts via guano deposits. We measured the mass and nitrogen content of guano deposited outside of roosts occupied by maternal colonies of 2 tree-roosting species, Myotis septentrionalis and M. sodalis. We assessed whether these measures were related to date, species, and bat abundance using least-squares regression. We then compared the expected amount of nitrogen deposited over a maternity season to the expected annual amount of nitrogen mineralized by a forest. Mass of guano deposited increased with bat abundance and corresponded to periods of parturition and lactation. Nitrogen mineralization near a large roost of bats can be 380% of that due to decay of leaf litter. Such nutrient peaks could influence patterns of forest vegetation by impacting growth of herbaceous plants and development of tree seedlings, and the magnitude of these effects should increase in nutrient-poor areas.
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Vol. 91 • No. 1