Northern Alabama colonies of the endangered grey bat Myotis grisescens: organochlorine contamination and mortality


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Publication Date

January 1988


From 1976 to 1986, dead and dying grey bats Myotis grisescens and grey bat guano were collected from caves along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama to determine the possible role of organochlorine chemicals — in particular wastes from a former DDT manufacturing plant near Huntsville—in the mortalities. Concentrations of chemical residues in brains were less than known lethal levels; certain observations and analyses did indicate the possibility of past organochlorine-induced bat deaths. Levels of contaminants in bats declined slowly during the 10-year sampling period, but heavy residue burdens persist. The high ratio of DDD to DDE in residues from the former DDT plant made them identifiable as far as 140 km downriver. Grey bats concentrated chemical residues to higher levels and demonstrated the presence of these residues over much greater distances than did red-winged blackbirds Agelaius phoenicus. Grey bats may be the most sensitive indicator available for monitoring the contamination from this former DDT manufacturing site.


Grey Bat, Myotis Grisescens, Organ Chlorine Contamination

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Biological Conservation, Vol. 43, no. 3 (1988-01-01).