Seasonal activity patterns of bats in the Central Appalachians

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Virginia Tech


Two threats to bats are especially pervasive in the central Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States: a fungal disease called White-nose Syndrome (WNS) and wind energy development. White-nose Syndrome has caused the death of millions of bats in North America, and multiple hibernating bat species are affected in the central Appalachians. Wind energy is one of the most rapidly-growing energy sources in eastern United States, and bats are often killed when they fly near wind turbines. Fatality rates at wind turbines is highest in bat species that migrate instead of hibernate. There is limited data on bats during the autumn and spring seasons in the central Appalachian Mountains, and the impacts of WNS and wind energy development may be exacerbated during these seasons. Therefore, I sought to determine patterns and drivers of activity for hibernating bat species during autumn and spring around hibernacula. Similarly, I set out to determine patterns and drivers of activity for migratory bat species during autumn and spring along mountain ridgelines in the central Appalachians. Lastly, I searched for evidence of potential WNS-induced changes in the summer ecology of the once common northern long eared bat. This study can help elucidate patterns of bat activity during largely understudied seasons. Furthermore, it can provide useful information needed by land managers to implement actions that could help alleviate and/or avoid potential additive negative impacts on bat species with existing conservation concerns.



activity, bats, Central Appalachians, Virginia, caves, ridges, migration, atmospheric conditions, White-nose Syndrome, roost trees