A substantial body of work exists describing timing of migration and hibernation among bats in eastern North America, but less is known about these events among bats inhabiting the Rocky Mountain region. Yellowstone National Park is a geothermally influenced landscape comprised of diverse habitats, creating the opportunity for unique behaviors to develop among local bat populations. We identified the timing of migration for the local bat community and determined if bats overwinter in Yellowstone. To accomplish this, we radiotracked 7 little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), 5 western long-eared myotis (M. evotis), 4 big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), 4 silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans), and 1 western small-footed myotis (M. ciliolabrum) from August to September 2010 and September to October 2011. We also used acoustic detectors to record bat activity from November through April 2011–2014 and sampled abundance of nocturnal insects using black-light traps from 2011 to 2012. Although availability of insects declined rapidly during August and afterward, several bat species remained active throughout autumn and winter. Bat activity was recorded during all months, even during periods of extreme cold. Radiotagged big brown bats, little brown myotis, and western small-footed myotis remained active in the study area throughout October, after the 1st snowfall of the season. While data for activity patterns in late autumn and winter prevented an estimation of the onset of hibernation, spring emergence occurred in April despite persistence of winter conditions. These data provide insights into the migration and hibernation strategies of bat populations in the Rocky Mountains and highlight gaps in our understanding of seasonal changes in these species.
Joseph S. Johnson, John J. Treanor, Michael J. Lacki, Michael D. Baker, Greg A. Falxa, Luke E. Dodd, Austin G. Waag, Elijah H. Lee; Migratory and winter activity of bats in Yellowstone National Park. J Mammal 2017; 98 (1): 211-221. doi: 10.1093/jmammal/gyw175
Journal of Mammalogy