2017 October Report – Bats

October Walk and Talk – Bats: Kaitlyn Torrey described her research for her master’s thesis at the University of West Georgia on two threatened bat species that spend the breeding season in the Talladega Forest in Alabama. Her research objective is to examine roost site selection and foraging patterns of the northern long-eared bat and the Indiana bat in response to fire-based forest restoration. Her research indicates that both of these species roost and forage significantly more frequently in forest areas that have been managed with prescribed fire than in those areas maintained with no prescribed fire management. Continuing research seeks to determine the specific advantages fire management may be offering to these species. As part of her talk, Kaitlyn provided a broad introduction to the amazing skills and habits of bats, and told about the specific bat species found in Georgia. She discussed their susceptibiltiy to the deadly white-nose syndrome which is decimating many species of bats in this country. Those species which hibernate in caves, with body temperatures only one degree above the ambient temperature, tend to be more susceptible to this disease. Apparently, the fungus, unable to differenciate between the bat and the surrounding cave walls, covers the mouth and nose of the bat. This causes the affected bat to wake up, which uses valuable energy and results in starvation by the end of winter.