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Bats of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Composition, reproduction, and roosting habits

January 1, 2011

We determined the bat fauna at Mesa Verde National Park (Mesa Verde) in 2006 and 2007, characterized bat elevational distribution and reproduction, and investigated roosting habits of selected species. We captured 1996 bats of 15 species in mist nets set over water during 120 nights of sampling and recorded echolocation calls of an additional species. The bat fauna at Mesa Verde included every species of bat known west of the Great Plains in Colorado, except the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). Some species showed skewed sex ratios, primarily due to a preponderance of males. Thirteen species of bats reproduced at Mesa Verde. Major differences in spring precipitation between the 2 years of our study were associated with differences in reproductive rates and, in some species, with numbers of juveniles captured. Reduced reproductive effort during spring drought will have a greater impact on bat populations with the forecasted increase in aridity in much of western North America by models of global climate change. We radiotracked 46 bats of 5 species to roosts and describe the first-known maternity colonies of spotted bats (Euderma maculatum) in Colorado. All 5 species that we tracked to diurnal roosts relied almost exclusively on rock crevices rather than trees or snags, despite the presence of mature forests at Mesa Verde and the use of trees for roosts in similar forests elsewhere by some of these species. Comparisons with past bat surveys at Mesa Verde and in surrounding areas suggest no dramatic evidence for effects of recent stand-replacing fires on the composition of the bat community.

Publication Year 2011
Title Bats of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Composition, reproduction, and roosting habits
DOI 10.3398/042.005.0101
Authors Thomas J. O'Shea, Paul M. Cryan, E. Apple Snider, Ernest W. Valdez, Laura E. Ellison, Daniel J. Neubaum
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist
Index ID 70004003
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center