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Pregnant little brown bats huddle together in "maternity colonies" to conserve warmth, as they are unable to regulate their body temperature. Credit: NPS.
For the little brown bat—a small mouse-eared bat with glossy brown fur—a warm, dry place to roost is essential to the species' survival. Reproductive females huddle their small furry bodies together to save thermal energy during maternity season (summer), forming "maternity colonies." In the face of severe population losses across North America, summer access to an attic or other permanent sheltered structure, as opposed to just trees or rock crevices, is a huge benefit to these bats.
Study - Ecological - Society - America - Journal
In a new study published in the Ecological Society of America's journal Ecosphere, researchers with Ohio University, University of Kentucky, and the US National Park Service investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone's iconic high-elevation landscape provides abundant natural roosting places but not many buildings. The study involved four visitor areas with several buildings that are known to host bold little brown bats, which are among the few bat species that will make their homes in structures that are actively used by people, allowing humans to get up close and personal. Sometimes, the investigation even involved researchers capturing them by hand.
Attics - Bats - Lead - Study - Author
"We occasionally entered attics to look to see if they were occupied by bats," says lead study author Joseph Johnson, an assistant professor of vertebrate biology at Ohio University. "On these occasions we sometimes took the opportunity presented by inactive bats... We would gently pluck them from the walls and glue a transmitter on them in order to study their thermoregulation, but also to let them lead us to additional roosts."
Over the summers of 2012-2015, researchers tracked individual bats in the park. Using temperature-sensitive radio-transmitters, the...
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