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New County Records of Little Brown and Northern Long-eared Bats in Georgia
Jacalyn M. Beck and Katrina M. Morris

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 16, Issue 2 (2017): N5–N8

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N5 2017 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 16, No. 2 J.M. Beck and K.M. Morris New County Records of Little Brown and Northern Long-eared Bats in Georgia Jacalyn M. Beck1,* and Katrina M. Morris2 Abstract - Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-eared Bat) and Myotis lucifugus (Little Brown Bat) are 2 species of North American bat that currently are experiencing extreme population declines because of white-nose syndrome (WNS). The state of Georgia lies at the southeastern tip of both of these species’ reported ranges, though current records are sparse. Previously, Little Brown Bats had been recorded in only 5 Georgia counties and Northern Long-eared Bats in 9 counties. New records provided herein expand the known range to 20 and 23 counties, respectively. This information greatly increases our knowledge of the ranges of these 2 at-risk species and can help biologists and managers better understand overall population changes as WNS continues to spread. Introduction. The first evidence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) was observed in 2006 (Blehert et al. 2009) when dead bats were found outside of a cave in New York with white fungus growing on their muzzles and wings. Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Blehert & Gargas) Minnis & D.L. Lindner (Pd), the fungus that causes WNS, has spread rapidly across North America and decimated populations of cave-dependent bat species. An estimated 6 million bats already had died from WNS in 2010 (Frick et al. 2010). Currently, the presence of Pd has been confirmed in 32 states and 5 Canadian provinces (USFWS 2016). Although 7 North American bat species have been identified with symptoms of WNS, Myotis lucifugus (Le Conte) (Little Brown Bat) and Myotis septentrionalis (Trouessart) (Northern Longeared Bat) are 2 of the most frequently diagnosed (Cryan et al. 2010). Wing membranes play a crucial role in water balance during hibernation. WNS causes severe damage to wings, and the resulting imbalance in homeostasis is suggested to be one of the causes of WNS mortality (Willis et al. 2011). Little Brown Bats are more susceptible to water loss than many other species because their metabolic water production is unlikely to compensate for evaporative water loss even at extremely high relative humidities (Thomas and Cloutier 1992). Previously one of the most common bat species in North America, the Little Brown Bat currently is experiencing regional population collapse because of the high risk to them posed by WNS, and extinction of the species is probable in as little as 10 years (Frick et al. 2010). In 2015, the Northern Long-eared Bat was listed as threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. WNS was stated as the main threat to the species, as Pd had reached an estimated 60% of the species’ range, and infected populations exhibited 90–100% mortality (USFWS 2015). In multiple sites, Northern Long-eared Bats were found to have the highest Pd-load of any species surveyed (Langwig et al. 2014). WNS was confirmed in Georgia during the winter of 2013–2014. Before the arrival of WNS, Little Brown and Northern Long-eared Bats regularly were observed in small numbers during winter hibernaculum surveys by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR). However, no individuals of either species have been observed during these winter surveys since WNS arrival (Morris et al. 2016). Now, as biologists work to document surviving individuals and evaluate possible range changes, records of occurrence are more important than ever. To our knowledge, the last collection of records for Northern Long- 1Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. 2Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Social Circle, GA 30025. *Corresponding author - Manuscript Editor: Andrew Edelman Notes of the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 16/2, 2017 2017 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 16, No. 2 N6 J.M. Beck and K.M. Morris eared or Little Brown Bats in Georgia were published by Menzel et al. (2000). Many new county records have been obtained after that publication as interest in bat conservation and sampling efforts have increased. According to previous records, Little Brown Bats occurred in 5 Georgia counties: Bartow, Dade, Polk, Towns, and Walker. Northern Long-eared Bats were documented in 9 counties: Bartow, Dade, Fannin, Harris, Lumpkin, Pickens, Polk, Towns, and Union. Here, we present a summary of new county records for the Little Brown Bat and the Northern Long-eared Bat in Georgia. Methods. Records were obtained through GA DNR collection-permit reports and consultant information requests. All bats were captured using mist nets, and exact locations were taken using handheld GPS units. Results. Little Brown Bats were documented in 15 counties where records previously were lacking: Catoosa, Chattooga, Cobb, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Gilmer, Habersham, Harris, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, Rabun, Union, and White (Fig. 1A). Northern Long-eared Bats were recorded in 14 additional counties: Carroll, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dawson, Douglas, Floyd, Gilmer, Hall, Murray, Paulding, Rabun, Walker, White, and Whitfield (Fig. 1B). Myotis lucifugus. Catoosa County: 29 May 2013. 34°53'37.8"N 85°11'38.0"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 1 pregnant female, over Peavine Creek in a mixed hardwood/ pine forest. Chattooga County: 2 August 2001. 34°34'48.6"N 85°07'29.5"W, Susan Loeb (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 1 female, Forest Service road. Cobb County: 5 August 2004. 33°55'10.4"N 84°26'21.1"W, Susan Loeb (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 1 male, north Cochran Shoals. Fannin County: 26 July 2010. 34°51'53.8"N 84°31'09.0"W, Gary Libby (Skybax Ecological Services, LLC), 1 male, road crossing over a river. Fayette County: 28 June, 2016. 33°21'55.0"N 84°33'26.0"W, Michael J. Bender (Gordon State College), 1 reproductive female, Flat Creek Nature Area. Floyd County: 11 June 2014. 34°11'22.1"N 85°10'46.4"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 4 males and 1 lactating female, near Silver Creek in a forested corridor. Gilmer County: 25 June 2012. 34°40'06.4"N 84°26'53.0"W, Katrina Morris (GA DNR), 1 female, near Owltown Figure 1. Distribution of (A) Little Brown Bat and (B) Northern Long-eared Bat in Georgia. Stars indicate new county records and solid circles indicate pre-2000 records. N7 2017 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 16, No. 2 J.M. Beck and K.M. Morris Creek. Habersham County: 10 July 2001. 34°30'02.0"N 83°29'02.9"W, Susan Loeb (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 1 male, Nancy Town Lake. Harris County: 14 May 2015. 32°49'23.5"N 84°51'37.6"W, Craig Bland (Eco-Tech, Inc.), 1 male, Callaway Gardens. Lumpkin County: 10 September 2013. 34°41'16.3"N 83°53'31.6"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 1 male, mixed hardwood/pine forest along Boggs Creek. Murray County: 26 July 2010. 34°27'10.4"N 84°25'21.1"W, Joy M. O’Keefe (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 2 males, near a camping shelter at Fort Mountain State Park; 34°44'58.5"N 84°40'13.1"W, Lisa Gatens, 1 male, separate location. Paulding County: 28 May 2009. 33°50'49.6"N 84°54'31.6"W, Katrina Morris (GA DNR), 1 pregnant female, on a road near Pumpkinvine Creek. Rabun County: 27 July 2013. 34°58'07.5"N 83°23'29.0"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 3 females and 3 males, along Betty Creek through agricultural fields. Union County: 8 June 2013. 34°54'39.6"N 83°51'56.7"W, Ray Eaton (Eco-Tech, Inc.), 1 male, state road. White County: 2 May 2013. 34°44'03.7"N 83°43'26.9"W, Gary Libby (Skybax Ecological Services, LLC) and Ryan Allen (Bat Call Identification, Inc.), 1 male, Smith Creek. Myotis septentrionalis. Carroll County: 28 July 2014. 33°33'32.4"N 85°12'53.3"W, Brian Carver (Plateau Ecological), 1 male, state road through mixed forest. Chattooga County: 5 August 2013. 34°31'15.5"N 85°15'23.1"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 1 male and 1 female, Forest Service road in the Chattahoochee National Forest through mixed-age hardwoods. Cherokee County: 22 June 2013. 34°19'03.8"N 84°20'39.5"W, Dottie Brown (Ecological Solutions), 1 male, mixed hardwood/pine forest corridor near the Etowah River. Dawson County: 14 July 2013. 34°26'03.2"N 84°07'12.0"W, Zach Couch (Copperhead Consulting), 1 male, near a stream on the Dawson County Community Cultural Trailway. Douglas County: 31 July 2015. 33°41'13.8"N 84°53'05.3"W, Cory Murphy (Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc.), 1 female, stream corridor in a hardwood forest. Floyd County: 24 July 2002. 34°33'55.3"N 85°06'04.0"W, Susan Loeb (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 1 female and 4 males, John’s Creek. Gilmer County: 27 July 2010. 34°49'43.5"N 84°35'03.8"W, Susan Loeb (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station), 2 males and 2 females, hemlock- and hardwood-dominated forest; 34°50'38.5"N 84°35'18.0"W, Matthew J. Clement (University of Georgia, Athens), 2 females, separate location. Hall County: 2 August 2013. 34°25'33.6"N 83°55'17.7"W, Brian Carver (Plateau Ecological), 1 male, forested state road. Murray County: 26 July 2010. 34°48'41.4"N 84°39'31.0"W, Steve Samoray, 1 male, Holly Creek; 34°44'58.5"N 84°40'13.1"W, Lisa Gatens (North Carolina Museum of Natural History), 2 males, separate location. Paulding County: 27 July 2009. 33°58'07.3"N 84°55'54.7"W, Katrina Morris (GA DNR), 1 male, Raccoon Creek. Rabun County: 16 August 2007. 34°57'22.9"N 83°27'55.1"W, Katrina Morris (GA DNR), 1 male, bog opening in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Walker County: 23 August 2007. 34°40'29.5"N 85°27'20.1"W, Katrina Morris and Anna Yellin (GA DNR), 1 male and 1 female, Zhand Natural Area. White County: 28 April 2011. 34°43'20.7"N 83°43'15.9"W, Katrina Morris and Anna Yellin (GA DNR), 1 female, Frog Pond Trail. Whitfield County: 8 July 2013. 34°55'16.9"N 85°03'46.6"W, Steve Samoray and Rob Stinson (Copperhead Consulting), 1 female, forest corridor. Discussion. Since the discovery of a small maternity colony of Myotis sodalis Miller & Allen (Indiana Bat) in Gilmer county, GA, in 2012 (Roby 2012), federally funded development, construction, and restoration projects have had to address the possibility of negative impacts to this and other threatened species. In addition, the Northern Long-eared Bat federal listing in 2015 and significant declines in Perimyotis subflavus F. Cuvier (Tricolored Bat) and Little Brown Bats have prompted additional summer surveys to determine 2017 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 16, No. 2 N8 J.M. Beck and K.M. Morris the extent of the declines across north Georgia and better define the ranges of these highpriority species in the state (Morris et al. 2016). The new county records listed here for Northern Long-eared and Little Brown Bats reflect improvement on the general lack of knowledge on the extent of the ranges of these species in the eastern US. Additional surveys should be completed throughout the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of Georgia to determine if these species may inhabit areas that extend beyond the expected ranges. Furthermore, recent discoveries of Northern Long-eared Bats in other coastal states in the eastern US suggest that these bats can be found well beyond their historic ranges and may be active year-round (Grider et al. 2016). These populations likely do not use traditional sites for hibernation and may therefore be protected from WNSrelated mortality. Identification and protection of these populations may be critical for the survival of these species in the face of WNS. Acknowledgments. We would like to thank Nikki Castleberry at the Georgia Museum of Natural History for graciously supplying historic records. We specifically thank Ryan Allen, Michael Bender, Craig Bland, Dottie Brown, Brian Carver, Matthew J. Clement, Zach Couch, Lisa Gatens, Joy M. O’Keefe, Gary Libby, Susan Loeb, Cory Murphy, Steve Samoray, and Anna Yellin for adding to this collection of important records. Lastly, we extend our appreciation to all the biologists, consultants, technicians, and volunteers across the state of Georgia and beyond who have supplied bat capture data and continue to study and conserve all our North American bat species. Literature Cited Blehert, D.S., A.C. Hicks, M. Behr, C.U. Meteyer, B.M. Berlowski-zier, E.L. Buckles, J.T.H. Coleman, S.R. Darling, A. Gargas, R. Niver, J.C. Okoniewski, R.J. Rudd, and B. Ward. 2009. Bat white-nose syndrome : An emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323(5911):227. Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, J.G. Boyles, and D.S. Blehert. 2010. Wing pathology of white-nose syndrome in bats suggests life-threatening disruption of physiology. BMC Biology 8:135. Frick, W.F., J.F. Pollock, A.C. Hicks, K.E. Langwig, D.S. Reynolds, G.G. Turner, C.M. Butchkoski, and T.H. Kunz. 2010. An emerging disease causes regional population collapse of a common North American bat species. Science 329:679–682. Grider, J.F., A.L. Larsen, J.A. Homyack, and M.C. Kalcounis-Rueppell. 2016. Winter activity of coastal plain populations of bat species affected by white-nose syndrome and wind energy facilities. PLoS ONE 11:1–14. Langwig, K.E., W.F. Frick, R. Reynolds, K.L. Parise, K.P. Drees, J.R. Hoyt, T.L. Cheng, T.H. Kunz, J.T. Foster, and A.M. Kilpatrick. 2014. Host and pathogen ecology drive the seasonal dynamics of a fungal disease, white-nose syndrome. Emerging Infectious Disease 21(6):1023–1026. Menzel, M.A., B.R. Chapman, W.M. Ford, J.M. Menzel, and J. Laerm. 2000. A review of the distribution and roosting ecology of bats in Georgia. Georgia Journal of Science 58(3):143. Morris, T.M., J.M. Beck, and R.A. Tuck. 2016. 2016 White-nose syndrome season summary. Technical report. Geogia Department of Natural Resources, Social Circle, GA. Roby, P. 2012. Spring migration of Indiana Bats (Myotis sodalis) from Rose Cave hibernaculum to summer ranges. Report No. 069.05. Copperhead Consulting, Paint Lick, KY. Thomas, D.W., and D. Cloutier. 1992. Evaporative water loss by hibernating Little Brown Bats, Myotis lucifugus. Physiological Zoology 65(2):443–456. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2015. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; Threatened species status for the Northern Long-eared Bat with 4(d) rule. Federal Register 80:17973. Available online at 2015/04/02/2015-07069/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-threatened-species- status-for-the-northern-long-eared. Accessed 31 July 2016. USFWS. 2016. Bats affected by WNS. Available online at about/bats-affected-wns. Accessed on 31 July 2016. Willis, C.K.R., A.K. Menzies, J.G. Boyles, and M.S. Wojciechowski.2011. Evaporative water loss is a plausible explanation for mortality of bats from white-nose syndrome. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51:364-373.