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2011 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 10(3):529–532
Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Maternity Colonies in Arkansas
Stephen C. Brandebura1, Evan L. Pannkuk2,3, and Thomas S. Risch1,2,*
Abstract - Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat) is known to hibernate in Arkansas, but evidence
of maternity colonies is lacking. We captured ten Indiana Bats, including reproductive
females, in mist-nets at the Black River Wildlife Management Area (BRWMA) in Clay
County during 2006. We located one roost via radio-telemetry after affixing a transmitter
to one female Indiana bat. Our survey demonstrates that Indiana bat maternity colonies
are established in the BRWMA. This area is the most southwesterly maternity habitat of
Indiana Bats recorded and the only known maternity colonies in Arkansas.
The distribution of winter populations of Myotis sodalis Miller and Allen (Indiana
Bat) are well documented in Arkansas from surveys of caves and mines in the
Ozark Mountains (Black 1936, Harvey and McDaniel 1986, Harvey et al. 1979,
Sealander 1960, Sealander and Young 1955), but it is unclear if Arkansas contains
maternity colonies. Despite summer records of Indiana Bats from caves and mines
and extensive netting around the hibernacula, no evidence of maternity colonies
have been reported from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. In the summer of 2005,
the first reproductively active female Indiana bat from Arkansas was captured
(Brandebura et al. 2006). This capture occurred in the Black River Wildlife Management
Area (BRWMA), a fragment of what once was an extensive bottomland
forest in the Mississippi Delta. Interestingly, the BRWMA is adjacent to (within 5
km of) a location for which there is a record and specimens of an 1895 collection
of two juvenile Indiana Bats (Hall 1962). Thus, it is conceivable that Indiana Bats
have historically maintained maternity colonies in this area of the Mississippi Delta.
The BRMWA, like the rest of Arkansas’ Delta region, had not been extensively
surveyed for bats until 2004 (Fokidis et al. 2005). Given that the BRWMA contains
among the last remaining large contiguous forest in the area and also the furthest
southwesterly records of juvenile and a lactating Indiana Bat (Fig. 1), we sought to
provide more evidence of its use by Indiana Bat maternity colonies.
We investigated the sites of both the 1895 and 2005 captures for possible
bat habitat and netting locations. The 1895 capture location lacked remaining
contiguous forest; therefore, only the site of the 2005 capture (Brandebura et al.
2006) was chosen for our investigation. The BRWMA is composed of 10,100 ha
1Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University, PO Box 599, State
University, AR, 72467. 2Graduate Program in Environmental Science, Arkansas State
University, PO Box 847, State University, AR 72467. 3Department of Chemistry and
Physical Sciences, Arkansas State University, PO Box 419, State University, AR 72467.
*Corresponding author - email@example.com.
530 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 10, No. 3
Figure 1. Presence of Indiana Bat maternity colonies in southwest portion of range.
Shaded areas indicate counties in which maternity colonies have been reported (USFWS
2007). Black circle indicates the location of the Black River Wildlife Management Area
in Clay County, AR.
of swamp surrounded by an agricultural landscape. In the BRWMA, we surveyed
seventeen locations, 100 m to 1000 m apart, on roads, trails, and creeks using
mist nets. Surveys took place from June 2 to August 2 of 2006. Captured bats
were identified by species and sex. Additionally, reproductive condition and age
2011 S.C. Brandebura, E.L. Pannkuk, and T.S. Risch 531
(adult or juvenile; Edythe 1988) were recorded. Some bats received a lipped
metal band on the forearm (Porzana Ltd., East Sussex, UK) to facilitate future
identification. To locate a maternity colony’s roost, a 0.42-g radio transmitter
(Holohil Systems Ltd., Carp, ON, Canada) was placed between the scapulae of an
adult female using the surgical adhesive (Skin-Bond, Smith and Nephews United,
Inc., Largo, FL). This bat was held in a cotton bag for approximately 5 minutes
and subsequently released. Radiotracking of the bat occurred the following day
using a TRX-1000 radio receiver and three element Yagi-Uda radio antenna
(Wildlife Materials, Inc., Murphysboro, IL), and continued daily for the life of
We captured a total of ten Indiana Bats during our survey. In addition, eight
other species of bats were captured. We captured the first Indiana Bat on 29 June
and the last on 7 August. Nine of the Indiana Bats were female, two of which were
lactating, three were post-lactating, and one was a juvenile. The radio-tagged
female was a reproductively active adult, but she was not palpated to confirm active
lactation. The female captured and banded in 2005 was recaptured at the same
location. Three adults, two females and one male, were classified as non-reproductive.
Indiana Bats were captured at several netting locations within the BRWMA.
The maximum distance between capture sites of Indiana Bats was 1.2 km.
We searched for the radio-tagged Indiana Bat via telemetry for five days after
the night of capture. On day one, the bat was roosting in the forest interior among
a group of live trees; the specific tree could not be determined. During the next
two days, the signal could only be detected at night. On the forth day, the bat
was tracked to a 63-cm-diameter Platinus occidentalis L. (American Sycamore)
snag. This snag had less than half its bark remaining and most of the secondary
branches were broken. Ten bats were observed exiting this snag at dusk.
Our results demonstrate that the BRWMA contains at least one Indiana bat maternity
colony. This is evidenced by the number, dates, and distribution of captures
as well as the capture of lactating and juvenile Indiana Bats . The BRWMA is an
isolated fragment of bottomland forest within an agriculture-dominated landscape
(Medlin and Risch 2008). Thus, it is very unlikely that bats captured are roosting
outside of the immediate vicinity of the BRWMA. Interestingly, the 1895 collections
occurred less than 5 km away, suggesting that it is possible that Indiana Bats
have been using the general area since that time. Our data are the first to firmly establish
the presence of an Indiana Bat maternity colony in Arkansas, representing
the southwestern most edge of this endangered bat’s maternity range.
The BRWMA is typical of the hydric habitat described for Indiana Bat maternity
colonies in the Midwest of the United States (Carter 2006). It remains
unclear if this is the same population of Indiana Bats that hibernate throughout
the Ozarks of Arkansas. It is notable that there are riparian forests along the
532 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 10, No. 3
Arkansas and White Rivers in close proximity to Arkansas hibernating populations
that have not been extensively surveyed for bats. Our study proved useful
in clarifying the known maternity range of the Indiana Bat. Further bat surveys in
Arkansas should concentrate on under-sampled hydric habitats, which are typical
of most Indiana Bat maternity areas (Carter 2006).
This project was supported and funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Thanks to Blake Sasse and John Day for their logistical support. We also thank Melanie
Parton and other students at Arkansas State University for their help in the field. This
work benefited from the reassignment time granted to T.S. Risch from the Environmental
Sciences Program at ASU. This study was done under Federal Permit TE075912-0 and
State Permit 081620041.
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Arkansas Academy of Science 60:169–170.
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plan: First revision. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort Snelling, MN. 258 pp.