Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Charles L. Elliott

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Bat activity in old-growth forests (+150 years) is a subject that is poorly understood. The majority of old-growth forests are located in the northwestern portion of the United States, and with current silviculture practices, many forests are being cut. There have been no published studies that specifically examine bat use of old-growth forests in Kentucky. The objective of this study was to determine the diversity of bat species associated with old-growth and second growth forests within the Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station, Letcher County, Kentucky. This study was conducted over 2 field seasons; 2009 and 2010. Mist netting was conducted during July 2009, consisting of 13 sites (6 in old-growth, 7 in second growth forests). A total of 26 individuals, representing 5 species were captured. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) was the most abundant bat captured (n=11, 42%). The tri-colored bat (Permyotis subflavus) (n=6, 23%), northern bat (M. septentrionalis) (n=6, 23%), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) (n=2), and hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) were also captured during mist net surveys. Only 15% of bats were captured in old-growth forest sites, while 85% of captures occurred in second growth forest. Acoustical monitoring was conducted from 22 May - 21 August 2010, with acoustic sampling occurring nightly and continuously for 85 nights. Anabat II ultrasonic bat detectors with ZCAIM units were deployed in old-growth and second growth forest locations for two week sampling periods (23 sampling locations; 14 in old-growth and 9 in second growth). There were 34,536 identified echolocation passes recorded from 10 different bat species, i.e., tri-colored bat, little brown bat, northern bat, big brown bat, hoary bat, Indiana bat (M. sodalis), gray bat (M. grisescens), eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), eastern small-footed bat (M. leibii), southeastern bat (M. austroriparius), evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis). The second growth forest recorded more bat passes than the old-growth forest (61% and 39%, respectively), with the tri-colored bat being the most frequently recorded bat in the old-growth forest; while the little brown bat was the most frequently recorded bat in the second growth forest. There was very little similarity in terms of the species captured using mist nets and the species detected using Anabat; and between the bat species captured during mist netting in the old-growth forest vs. second growth forest (SJ = 0.36 and 0.20, respectively). The region which comprises the Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station supports a diverse population of bat species. It is recommended the forested habitat, especially the old-growth segment, and the riparian community associated with Line Fork Creek be preserved in order to maintain the area's Chiropteran community.

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