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Table 1 Eight national land-cover classes and definitions and rationale for inclusion in this study. Only the first four land cover classes were focused on during this study, the remainder of the classes are included for reference

From: Assessing the extent of land-use change around important bat-inhabited caves

Class Definition Rationale
1. Natural woody vegetation Natural land cover category. 75% or more canopy cover, and canopy heights ranging between 2.5–6 m or more. Woody vegetation favours bat flight [25, 45, 55], M. natalensis classified as a clutter-edge forager [36]
2. Agriculture Anthropogenic land cover category. Includes commercial and subsistence agriculture and orchards. Active or recently active cultivated lands used for the production of food crops. Fruit bats are attracted to orchards due to food abundance [14]. Insectivorous species consume pest insect species found in orchards [86, 91]. Often high levels of pesticide use in commercial agriculture sites [41]
3. Plantations Anthropogenic land cover category. Dense to contiguous cover, planted tree forests, consisting primarily of exotic timber species, with canopy cover exceeding 35%, and canopy heights exceeding 2.5 m. Typically represented by mature commercial plantation tree stands. This class also includes smaller woodlots and windbreaks, where they have been identified by the same spectral-based image modelling procedures used to detect the plantation forests. Includes Open & Sparse Planted Forest and temporary unplanted/clear-felled plantation land cover classes Single-species plantations may have limited resource value for bats due to lower insect biomass and diversity [3, 65, 94]
4. Urban Anthropogenic land cover category. Built-up areas containing formally planned and constructed residential structures and associated utilities. The surface is predominantly non-vegetated. This class therefore has the closest spatial representation to all formal residential structures and associated hard-surface footprints. Also included in this category is all other urban structures (recreational fields), informal residential dwellings and villages Street lights disturb commuting bats [84, 95]. Foraging bat density is lower in urban areas [48]
5. Other vegetation Natural land cover category. All other vegetation classes with heights below 2.5 m. Includes grassland, low shrubland and sparsely wooded grassland.  
6. Mines Anthropogenic land cover category. Built-up structures and areas associated with the administration and/or industrial processing and active extraction of mined resources  
7. Wetlands Natural land cover category. Natural or semi-natural wetlands covered in permanent or seasonal herbaceous vegetation  
8. Bare Permanent or semi-permanent, natural and anthropogenic non-vegetated surfaces and landfill sites