Winter Activity of Coastal Plain Populations of Bat Species Affected by White-Nose Syndrome and Wind Energy Facilities
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Across the entire distribution of a species, populations may have variable responses to environmental perturbations. Many bat species experience mortality in large portions of their range during hibernation and along migratory paths to and from wintering grounds, from White-nose syndrome (WNS) and wind energy development, respectively. In some areas, warm temperatures may allow bats to remain active through winter, thus decreasing their susceptibility to WNS and/or mortality associated with migration to wintering grounds. These areas could act as a refugia and be important for the persistence of local populations. To determine if warmer temperatures affect bat activity, we compared year-round activity of bat populations in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of North Carolina, USA, two regions that differ in winter temperature. We established six recording stations, four along a 295-kilometer north-south transect in the Coastal Plain, and two in the Piedmont of North Carolina. We recorded bat activity over two years. We supplemented our recordings with mist-net data. Although bat activity was lower during winter at all sites, the odds of recording a bat during winter were higher at Coastal Plain sites when compared with Piedmont sites. Further, bats in the Piedmont had a lower level of winter activity compared to summer activity than bats in the Coastal Plain that had more similar levels of activity in the winter and summer. We found high bat species richness on the Coastal Plain in winter, with winter-active species including those known to hibernate throughout most of their range and others known to be long distance migrants. In particular, two species impacted by WNS, the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), were present year round in the Coastal Plain. The tricolored bat was also present year-round in the Piedmont. In the Coastal Plain, the long distance migratory hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) was active in the winter but not present during the other seasons,
Grider, John F.; Larsen, Angela L.; Homyack, Jessica A.; and Kalcounis-Rueppell, Matina C., "Winter Activity of Coastal Plain Populations of Bat Species Affected by White-Nose Syndrome and Wind Energy Facilities" (2016). KIP Articles. 5705.