Characteristics of Day Roosts Used by Eastern Small-footed Bats in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

The eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) is a rarely encountered species that has experienced declines in its populations and is currently being petitioned for federal listing. Throughout most of its range, M. leibii roost in rock fields and talus slopes with low canopy cover and high solar exposure. However, we know little about roost characteristics in the southern portion of its range. Therefore, in summers 2011 and 2012, we studied a male-dominated, bridge-roosting population of M. leibii in the Southern Appalachian Mountains to document the characteristics of their roosts. We tracked 25 individuals via radio telemetry and found 13 natural roosts. Similar to other studies on M. leibii, roosts were in large (width = 68.15 m, height = 15.25 m), south-facing (= 183°) rock expanses. However, most roosts were not located in talus slopes and rock fields; rather, roosts were mostly located in manmade road-cuts with steep slopes (= 66°) and low proportions of loose rock relative to overall rock surface (= 20.77%). Roosts were covered in moderate amounts of vegetation (= 51.67%) and had moderate solar exposure (= 42.72%), which is fairly consistent with roosts in other regions. These data illustrate the importance of rocky habitat with at least some solar exposure and demonstrate the impact human development has on this species by creating alternative roost habitat. These data, when combined with similar data, will be important for the creation of a range-wide management plan for M. leibii.

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