Survival and persistence of tricolored bats hibernating in Arkansas mines


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Journal of Mammalogy

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White-nose syndrome (WNS) has caused large declines in bat populations across eastern North America, making information on demographics of affected species critical to determining their risk for extinction. We used Cormack–Jolly–Seber models to estimate apparent survival rates of hibernating tricolored bats (Perimyotis subflavus) for 5 years in four small abandoned mines in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, located within the WNS endemic area of the United States. Populations in individual mines varied greatly in survival rates, with one mine displaying annual survival rates as high as 0.706 and another as low as 0.101. Differences in survival among bats in different mines could not definitively be attributed to WNS, but may have varied based on a combination of WNS, disturbance, mine climate, and other unknown factors. Further, some hibernacula may have served as temporary winter shelter for young transient males. Sites housing small colonies of hibernating bats may result in high survival rates despite WNS, and protecting these smaller sites may be important for overall species perseverance.

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