Continental-scale, seasonal movements of a heterothermic migratory tree bat

Ecological Applications
By: , and 



Long-distance migration evolved independently in bats and unique migration behaviors are likely, but because of their cryptic lifestyles, many details remain unknown. North American hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus cinereus) roost in trees year-round and probably migrate farther than any other bats, yet we still lack basic information about their migration patterns and wintering locations or strategies. This information is needed to better understand unprecedented fatality of hoary bats at wind turbines during autumn migration and to determine whether the species could be susceptible to an emerging disease affecting hibernating bats. Our aim was to infer probable seasonal movements of individual hoary bats to better understand their migration and seasonal distribution in North America. We analyzed the stable isotope values of non-exchangeable hydrogen in the keratin of bat hair and combined isotopic results with prior distributional information to derive relative probability density surfaces for the geographic origins of individuals. We then mapped probable directions and distances of seasonal movement. Results indicate that hoary bats summer across broad areas. In addition to assumed latitudinal migration, we uncovered evidence of longitudinal movement by hoary bats from inland summering grounds to coastal regions during autumn and winter. Coastal regions with nonfreezing temperatures may be important wintering areas for hoary bats. Hoary bats migrating through any particular area, such as a wind turbine facility in autumn, are likely to have originated from a broad expanse of summering grounds from which they have traveled in no recognizable order. Better characterizing migration patterns and wintering behaviors of hoary bats sheds light on the evolution of migration and provides context for conserving these migrants.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Continental-scale, seasonal movements of a heterothermic migratory tree bat
Series title Ecological Applications
DOI 10.1890/13-0752.1
Volume 24
Issue 4
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ecological Applications
First page 602
Last page 616
Other Geospatial North America
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