First Direct Evidence of Long-distance Seasonal Movements and Hibernation in a Migratory Bat
Understanding of migration in small bats has been constrained by limitations of techniques that were labor-intensive, provided coarse levels of resolution, or were limited to population-level inferences. Knowledge of movements and behaviors of individual bats have been unknowable because of limitations in size of tracking devices and methods to attach them for long periods. We used sutures to attach miniature global positioning system (GPS) tags and data loggers that recorded light levels, activity, and temperature to male hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus). Results from recovered GPS tags illustrated profound differences among movement patterns by individuals, including one that completed a >1000 km round-trip journey during October 2014. Data loggers allowed us to record sub-hourly patterns of activity and torpor use, in one case over a period of 224 days that spanned an entire winter. In this latter bat, we documented 5 torpor bouts that lasted ≥16 days and a flightless period that lasted 40 nights. These first uses of miniature tags on small bats allowed us to discover that male hoary bats can make multi-directional movements during the migratory season and sometimes hibernate for an entire winter.