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United States bat species of concern: A synthesis

September 28, 2018

In 1994 the federal government designated 24 species or subspecies of bats in the United States (U.S.) and its territories as Category 2 candidates for listing as Endangered or Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Category 2 was eliminated in 1996, but taxa previously receiving this designation were informally considered “species of concern”. Various state and federal agencies and conservation organizations assigned bat species of concern to more formal conservation categories. Some of the original 24 taxa designated as Category 2 candidates in 1994 were later listed as Endangered, whereas others were subject to refinements in knowledge of their taxonomy and distribution. The remaining 20 species of bats have the subjects of increased research efforts over the past two decades, and are the focus of this review. Two species occur in the U.S. Territories. All of the 18 mainland species ranges include areas west of the Mississippi River (15 are found primarily in western states), and 13 occur in California (72% of the 18 mainland species). In this review, we provide a comprehensive summary of the literature pertinent to the conservation designations, systematics, distribution, habitats, relative abundance, foraging, diet, roosting ecology, population ecology, and management of each of these 20 species. The species of concern are distributed among four families of bats. The Samoan flying fox (Pteropus samoensis) belong to the old-world family Pteropodidae. The California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus), red fruit bat (Stenoderma rufum), and Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana) are members of the new-world family Phyllostomidae. Three species belong to the cosmopolitan family Molossidae: the greater bonneted bat (Eumops perotis californicus), Underwood’s bonneted bat (Eumops underwoodi), and the big free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops macrotis). Most bat species of concern are in the globally distributed family Vespertilionidae: Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii), Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (C. rafinesquii), spotted bat (Euderma maculatum), Allen’s big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), southeastern myotis (M. austroriparius), western small-footed myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum), long-eared myotis (M. evotis), eastern small-footed myotis (M. leibii), Arizona myotis (M. occultus), fringed myotis (M. thysanodes), cave myotis (M. velifer), long-legged myotis (M. volans), and Yuma myotis (M. yumanensis). An impressive amount of knowledge has accumulated about these species since their informal designation as species of concern, but this knowledge is unevenly distributed. Comparatively little research has been conducted on the Samoan flying fox and the red fruit bat over the past decade in tropical territories, nor on the Mexican long-tongued bat and Underwood’s mastiff bat in the southwestern U.S. Within temperate regions of the U.S., habitat use of two eastern species that roost in hollow trees or caves (southeastern myotis and Rafinesque’s big-eared bat) has been the focus of much research, as have aspects of the biology of cave-roosting and tree-roosting western species, particularly where information about management of forests, caves and abandoned mines can be used to benefit bat conservation. Comparatively less information has accrued about species that roost in rock crevices and high on cliff faces. Other major gaps in information are also identified. We anticipate that this review will help guide future research and conservation efforts directed at the bat species of concern.

Publication Year 2018
Title United States bat species of concern: A synthesis
Authors Thomas J. O'Shea, Paul M. Cryan, Michael A. Bogan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th series
Index ID 70200786
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center