Emergence activity at hibernacula differs among four bat species affected by white-nose syndrome

Reilly T. Jackson, Emma V. Willcox, John M. Zobel, Riley F. Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prior to the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to North America, temperate bats were thought to remain within hibernacula throughout most of the winter. However, recent research has shown that bats in the southeastern United States emerge regularly from hibernation and are active on the landscape, regardless of their WNS status. The relationship between winter activity and susceptibility to WNS has yet to be explored but warrants attention, as it may enable managers to implement targeted management for WNS-affected species. We investigated this relationship by implanting 1346 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags in four species that vary in their susceptibility to WNS. Based on PIT-tag detections, three species entered hibernation from late October to early November. Bats were active at hibernacula entrances on days when midpoint temperatures ranged from −1.94 to 22.78°C (mean midpoint temperature = 8.70 ± 0.33°C). Eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii), a species with low susceptibility to WNS, were active throughout winter, with a significant decrease in activity in mid-hibernation (December 16 to February 15). Tricolored bats (Perimyotis subflavus), a species that is highly susceptible to WNS, exhibited an increase in activity beginning in mid-hibernation and extending through late hibernation (February 16 to March 31). Indiana bats (M. sodalis), a species determined to have a medium–high susceptibility to WNS, remained on the landscape into early hibernation (November 1 to December 15), after which we did not record any again until the latter portion of mid-hibernation. Finally, gray bats (M. grisescens), another species with low susceptibility to WNS, maintained low but regular levels of activity throughout winter. Given these results, we determined that emergence activity from hibernacula during winter is highly variable among bat species and our data will assist wildlife managers to make informed decisions regarding the timing of implementation of species-specific conservation actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere9113
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge that the lands where our study was conducted are located in the ancestral home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, S'atsoyaha (Yuchi), and Shawandasse Tula (Shawnee) Indigenous peoples. We wish to acknowledge the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for assistance and access. Funding for this study was provided by The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (award number: F15AP00955‐03; E.V.W and R.F.B) and the National Park Service (award number: P18AC01279; E.V.W and R.F.B). We thank Nigel House for his technical support in designing and building our PIT‐tag detection systems. We also thank Zack David, Keith Dreyer, D. Scott Hollis, Mallory Tate, and Laura Vining for their assistance in the field.

Funding Information:
We acknowledge that the lands where our study was conducted are located in the ancestral home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, S'atsoyaha (Yuchi), and Shawandasse Tula (Shawnee) Indigenous peoples. We wish to acknowledge the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for assistance and access. Funding for this study was provided by The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (award number: F15AP00955-03; E.V.W and R.F.B) and the National Park Service (award number: P18AC01279; E.V.W and R.F.B). We thank Nigel House for his technical support in designing and building our PIT-tag detection systems. We also thank Zack David, Keith Dreyer, D. Scott Hollis, Mallory Tate, and Laura Vining for their assistance in the field.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • PIT tags
  • bats
  • disease
  • hibernation behavior
  • winter activity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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