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Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Maternity Colonies in Arkansas
Stephen C. Brandebura, Evan L. Pannkuk, and Thomas S. Risch

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 10, Issue 3 (2011): 529–532

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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. Introduction 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. Methods 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 - trisch@astate.edu. 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 the transmitter. Results 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. Discussion 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). Acknowledgments 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. Literature Cited Black, J.D. 1936. Mammals of northwestern Arkansas. Journal of Mammalogy 17:29–35. Brandebura, S.C., R.E. Medlin, Jr., and T.S. Risch. 2006. New evidence of maternity colonies of the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) in the Delta of Arkansas. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 60:169–170. Carter, T.C. 2006. Indiana Bats in the Midwest: The importance of hydric habitats. Journal of Wildlife Management 70:1185–1190. Edythe, A.L.P. 1988. Age determination in bats. Pp. 47–58, In T.H. Kunz (Eds.). Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats. Smithsonian Institution Press Washington, DC. 533 pp. Fokidis H.B., S.C. Brandebura, and T.S. Risch. 2005. Distributions of bats in bottomland hardwood forests of the Arkansas delta region. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 59:51–56. Hall, J.S. 1962. A Life History and Taxonomic Study of the Indiana Bat, Myotis sodalis. Gallery Publication. 12. Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA. 68 pp. Harvey, M.J., and V.R. McDaniel. 1986. Population decline of the endangered Indiana Bat, Myotis sodalis, in Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 40:87–88. Harvey, M.J., J.J. Cassidy, and G.G. O’Hagan. 1979. Status of the endangered bats Myotis sodalis, M. grisescens, and Plecotus townsendii ingens in Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 33:81. Medlin, R.E. Jr., and T.S. Risch. 2008. Habitat associations of bottomland bats, with focus on the Rafinesque Big-eared Bat and the Southeastern Myotis. American Midland Naturalist 160:400–412. Sealander, J.A. 1960. Some noteworthy records of Arkansas mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 41:525–526. Sealander, J.A., and H. Young. 1955. Preliminary observations on the cave bats of Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 7:21–31. US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) draft recovery plan: First revision. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort Snelling, MN. 258 pp.