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Winter distribution and use of high elevation caves as foraging sites by the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus semotus

January 31, 2016

We examine altitudinal movements involving unusual use of caves by Hawaiian hoary bats, Lasiurus cinereus semotus, during winter and spring in the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve (MLFR), Hawai‘i Island. Acoustic detection of hoary bat vocalizations, were recorded with regularity outside 13 lava tube cave entrances situated between 2,200 to 3,600 m asl from November 2012 to April 2013. Vocalizations were most numerous in November and December with the number of call events and echolocation pulses decreasing through the following months. Bat activity was positively correlated with air temperature and negatively correlated with wind speed. Visual searches found no evidence of hibernacula nor do Hawaiian hoary bats appear to shelter by day in these caves. Nevertheless, bats fly deep into caves as evidenced by numerous carcasses found in cave interiors. The occurrence of feeding buzzes around cave entrances and visual observations of bats flying in acrobatic fashion in cave interiors point to the use of these spaces as foraging sites. Peridroma moth species (Noctuidae), the only abundant nocturnal, flying insect sheltering in large numbers in rock rubble and on cave walls in the MLFR, apparently serve as the principal prey attracting hoary bats during winter to lava tube caves in the upper MLFR. Caves above 3,000 m on Mauna Loa harbor temperatures suitable for Pseudogymnoascus destructansfungi, the causative agent of White-nose Syndrome that is highly lethal to some species of North American cave-dwelling bats. We discuss the potential for White-nose Syndrome to establish and affect Hawaiian hoary bats.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Winter distribution and use of high elevation caves as foraging sites by the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus semotus
DOI
Authors Frank Bonaccorso, Kristina Montoya-Aiona, Corinna A. Pinzari, Christopher M. Todd
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number HCSU-068
Index ID 70168661
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center