Alternative Title

Ecological studies and management of Missouri bats, with emphasis on cave-dwelling species



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Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri Missouri Conservation Department

Publication Date

January 1980




During a 4th-year period, ecological studies of bats were carried out over much of the state of Missouri. An important goal of these studies was to learn enough about the species' biology to insure that intelligent management programs could be formulated and carried out. Status: The population of the endangered Indiana bat is relatively stable in Missouri, although declines have been documented at certain hibernacula. The endangered gray bat has declined to one quarter of its former numbers, and its population continues to diminish. The little brown bat and the big broWn bat are probably both declining due to extermination efforts in the buildings where they raise their young. Keen's bat is more abundant than previously believed, and pipistrelles seem to be holding their own. Recaptures and movements: Loyalty to hibernacula was demonstrated in varying degrees for all six cave species. In addition, female gray bats were loyal to their maternity caves, and all gray bats were loyal to the caves of their colony area. Survivorship for Indiana bats was comparable to that reported for this species in Indiana. Movements from summering areas(as far away as Iowa and Illinois) to hibernacula were documented for Indiana, gray and little brown bats. Light-tagging and food habits: Male Indiana bats foraged in forests in southern Missouri and in riparian situations in northern Missouri. Gray bats foraged over streams and reservoirs, but may forage elsewhere during bright moon. Indiana bats and Keen's bats seem to be moth specialists, whereas gray bats typically selected insects of the aquatic orders. Little brown bats ate mostly Trichoptera, as did pipistrelles. Big brown bats were beetle strategists. Year-round trapping: At one cave, trapping was carried out monthly (except winter) during the course of the study. Although seasonal trends were evident in all six species, actual catch rates varied substantially from one year to the next. Seasonal changes in weight: In general, weight changes were minor during the spring and summer, except for pregnant females. All species gained weight rapidly in the fall for a few weeks prior to entry into hibernation. Total weight loss during hibernation depended on clustering behavior, roost temperature, relative size of the species and total time in hibernation. Weight gain among juveniles was documented for gray bats and pipistrelles. Reproduction: Annual reproductive events were listed for all species, and the occurrence of the 'squared-ear' anomaly was observed in four of the species. Management: The need for and means of protecting both summer habitat (caves for gray bats; streams and forests for all species) and winter habitat (caves) are discussed in some detail. Missouri has taken a leading role in the acquisition and protection of bat caves with gates, fences and signs. In the long run, it is probable that only an enlightened public can insure the recovery and stability of Missouri's cave bat populations. --Authors Open Access - Permission by Publisher Northup Database Collection See Extended description for more information.

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