Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Luke E. Dodd

Second Advisor

Joy O'Keefe


In addition to using natural roosts, Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) form maternity colonies in artificial roosts such as rocket boxes and bark-mimic structures. However, few Indiana bat study systems contain multiple artificial roost types alongside natural roosting options. I sought to analyze roost use on a landscape with multiple roost types and determine the effects of reproductive condition on roost type and canopy closure selection. I also characterized the forest overstory composition and determined the quantity and quality of Indiana bat roosting habitat across the landscape. My field site was Veterans Memorial Wildlife Management Area (VMWMA) in Scott County, Kentucky, which contains 74% forest cover, 26% open landscape, 16 rocket box style bat boxes, and 19 bark-mimic roosts across three management units (North, Central, South). From April through September 2021, I radio-tagged and tracked 12 female Indiana bats to day roosts. Concurrently, I assessed natural roost availability across VMWMA. Despite documenting a wide range of available natural options, bats roosted in 10 unique rocket boxes, 14 unique bark-mimic roosts, and only 3 unique natural roosts. Artificial roosts were used on 96% of bat days. Potential roost trees are abundant at VMWMA, but most are relatively small. Neither the abundance of snags, shagbark hickories, ideal roost trees, nor canopy closure varied across slope position; however, the distribution of suitable roosts varied spatially, with roosting habitat overall less suitable in the South unit of VMWMA. Results indicate the forest at this study system is relatively young, but still contains natural roosting options for Indiana bats; availability of suitable roosts will presumably increase as the forest ages. Nevertheless, maternal Indiana bats at VMWMA prefer artificial roosts over natural roosts. My data underscores a continued need for research on artificial roosts, and for bat conservation efforts to focus on holistic habitat management, not merely limited roost creation.

Included in

Biology Commons