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Ecology and Vulnerability Northern Long-eared Bat
Ecology and Vulnerability
Northern Long-eared Bat
The northern long-eared bat, also commonly called the northern myotis, is found in Canada (from British Columbia to southern Quebec and Newfoundland) and the US... Read More
The northern long-eared bat, also commonly called the northern myotis, is found in Canada (from British Columbia to southern Quebec and Newfoundland) and the US (its range extends south to Oklahoma and east to South Carolina)1,2. Northern long-eared bats eat insects in the forest interior3,4. Bats begin to emerge from hibernation in April and May5 in northern areas and as early as March in southern areas1. During summer, northern long-eared bats can be found in trees during the day. They leave their resting trees to feed immediately after sunset and return to rest again immediately before sunrise4,6.
Previously, this species was frequently seen in the northeastern US. More recently, however, many bats have died as a result of a fungus that causes white nose disease7. This disease is currently the greatest cause of death in wintering northern long-eared bats5. In 2013 and 2014, surveys of known hibernation sites in Massachusetts found zero or one northern long-eared bat per site, much lower than is considered normal7. In 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service labeled the northern long-eared bat “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act7.
Bats must store enough energy reserves over the summer to enable them to survive winter hibernation8. Changes in precipitation and temperature are likely to have effects on the availability of the insects they eat and thus on their stored energy reserves9. Additionally, it is possible that warmer temperatures could cause bats to wake up from hibernation more often, which takes more energy9. Moreover, stored energy reserves are depleted at a rate that is dependent on the temperature of the hibernaculum (shelter where they hibernate), with temperatures above or below 2°C/36°F increasing the rate of depletion8. On the other hand, a longer growing season is likely to reduce the length of time that they hibernate.
It is unclear how these climate change effects will interact to influence bats. However, models based on energy needs related to hibernation conditions correctly predicted the distribution of the little brown bat in Canada (a northward range shift over the next century)8. Based on these models, similar range shifts are anticipated for other bat species, including the northern long-eared bat.
1. Thompson, F.R. 2006. Conservation assessments for five forest bat species in the Eastern United States. General Technical Report NC-260. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. St. Paul, MN. 82 p.
2. Burns, L.E., J.L. Segers, and H.G. Broders. 2015. Bat activity and community composition in the northern boreal forest of south-central Labrador, Canada. Northeastern Naturalist 22:32-40.
3. Broders, H.G., L.J. Farrow, R.N. Hearn, L.M. Lawrence, and G.J. Forbes. 2014. Stable isotopes reveal that little brown bats have a broader dietary niche than northern long-eared bats. Acta Chiropterologica 16:315-325.
4. Johnson, J.B., J.W. Edwards, and W.M. Ford. 2011. Nocturnal activity patterns of northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) during the maternity season in West Virginia (USA). Acta Chiropterologica 13:391-397.
5. Frank, C.L., A. Michalski, A.A. McDonough, M. Rahimian, R.J. Rudd, and C. Herzog. 2014. The resistance of a North American bat species (Eptesicus fuscus) to white-nose syndrome (WNS). PloS ONE 9(12):e113958.
6. Johnson, J.B., W.M. Ford, and J.W. Edwards. 2012. Roost networks of northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) in a managed landscape. Forest Ecology and Management 266:223-231.
7. DOI. 2015. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Northern Long-Eared Bat With 4(d) Rule. Federal Register 80 (2 April 2015), pp. 17974-18033.
8. Humphries, M.M., D.W. Thomas, and J.R. Speakman. 2002. Climate-mediated energetic constraints on the distribution of hibernating mammals. Nature 418:313-316.
9. Rodenhouse, N.L., L.M. Christenson, D. Parry, and L.E. Green. 2009. Climate change effects on native fauna of northeastern forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39:249-263.
- Requires specialized habitat
- Has already... Read More
- Requires specialized habitat
- Has already experienced slight variations in annual precipitation (over the last 50 years)
- Slightly impacted by changes due to human response to climate change
The factors below decrease this species' vulnerability to climate change:
- Ability to move across the landscape and/or disperse relatively long distances
Hoving, C.L., Y.M. Lee, P.J. Badra, and B.J. Klatt. 2013. Changing climate, changing wildlife: a vulnerability assessment of 400 Species of Greatest Conservation Need and game species in Michigan. Wildlife Division Report No. 3564. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, MI. Available from: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/3564_Climate_Vulnerability_Divisi...
Related Adaptation Strategies and Actions
Related Habitats (detailed)
Related Species Groups
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