Investigating biometrics of Perimyotis subflavus in traditional and nontraditional hibernacula in the Southeastern United States as it relates to susceptibility to white-nose syndrome.
Date of Award
Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Perimyotis subflavus, or tricolored bat, populations have declined significantly since the emergence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and has been proposed for listing as “endangered” under the United States Endangered Species Act. Traditionally, bats use caves as hibernacula, but as anthropogenic impacts have increased so has the use of manmade structures like culverts and bridges for roosting by several bat species. The internal environment of these anthropogenic structures is influenced by external temperature and humidity differently than caves and may influence P. subflavus winter activity, and thus susceptibility to WNS. One of the most significant differences in P. subflavus roosting behavior in traditional versus nontraditional hibernacula is increased clustering during torpor while using culvert weep holes which may pose an increased risk for Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) transmission, infection, and WNS development. Continued significant declines in P. subflavus populations due to WNS increases importance of considering potential risk factors, such as hibernacula selection or environmental factors, to guide management actions and resolve the significance of hibernacula in the life history and presence of the species. This study aimed to evaluate the differences in P. subflavus susceptibility to white-nose syndrome at traditional versus nontraditional hibernacula via temperature/humidity monitoring, testing for Pd presence, and comparisons of bat biometrics. The results suggest only fungal loads on bats in newly Pd positive sites experienced a significant increase between sampling sessions throughout the winter season and that surface-based anthropogenic hibernacula were more variable in temperature and humidity than were subterranean hibernacula.