Across the highly modified agricultural landscape, remnants of native plant cover are necessary to sustain biodiversity and ecological functions. Valley oak trees are key plant structures that have been retained in some newly developed vineyards in San Luis Obispo County. Historically, many of these majestic giants were removed to make way for development. Today, their populations are greatly reduced and the remaining valley oaks are not regenerating. The loss of the many ecological functions, ecosystem services, and the beauty that the iconic trees provide is of great concern to the agriculturalist, environmentalist, and general public. For example, insectivorous bats are known to utilize large trees for foraging, predator protection, roosting, and reproduction. Bats are beneficial because they feed on insect pests that cost farmers billions of dollars annually in lost production! Unfortunately, many species of bats are threatened by habitat loss and disease. Some species are declining alarmingly. Could the lone tree within the vineyard offer insectivorous bats these essential functions?
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