Predicting Foraging Habitat of Gray Myotis in Georgia

In the southeastern United States, ongoing urbanization and associated environmental perturbations, such as water quality degradation, potentially affect foraging habitat of the federally endangered gray myotis (Myotis grisescens). Conserving foraging areas of gray myotis is critical to this species' recovery, especially as white nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) recently has been documented in this species. From 2000 to 2001, we used acoustic monitoring and spatial models to determine foraging areas of gray myotis near four bachelor/maternity colonies in northwestern Georgia. We detected gray myotis at 34 of 213 sites over 5,100 km2 surveyed. Gray myotis foraged along major riparian corridors near their roost caves, and our landscape model included these streams and nearby tributaries up to a minimum third-order stream. The landscape model contained 82% of sites where gray myotis were detected and only 14% (1,235 km) of waterways in northwestern Georgia. We recorded gray myotis at 87 of 114 sites predicted by our micro-habitat model, which indicated that gray myotis foraged over structurally uncluttered streams with forested banks that were adjacent to pastures. Our findings suggest that the continued recovery and protection of gray myotis populations depends on conservation of major streams and rivers near roost-caves.

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