Nine years of Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) spring migration behavior

Piper L. Roby, Mark W. Gumbert, Michael J. Lacki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) congregates in large hibernation groups in winter and travels after spring emergence to form summer maternity colonies, but information on migration behavior in this species remains limited to mostly band recovery observations. We tracked female Indiana bats in spring migration toward summer grounds using aerial radiotelemetry. Adult female Indiana bats were radiotagged in spring from 2009 through 2017, with 15 individuals successfully tracked to summer grounds and an additional 11 bats located in summer grounds via aerial telemetry after migration was complete. This resulted in the location of 17 previously unknown summer grounds for female Indiana bats, including adding Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the summer maternity range. Two of the colonies identified in this study were south of the previously known southernmost colony in Tennessee, expanding the summer maternity range for the species by 178 km. Time-stamped location fixes along the migration path provided information about nightly and overall distances traveled, duration of travel, migration speed, and weather-related influences on bat behavior. Bats traveled 164.6 ± 26.2 km (± SE) on average from hibernacula to summer grounds and were migrating for an average of 7.3 ± 1.4 calendar nights. Bats alternated between foraging and traveling throughout each night of their migration route. Nightly migration rate was 9.9 ± 0.8 km/h and bats were active on the landscape for an average of 6.1 ± 0.4 h/night. Lower nighttime temperatures and lower barometric pressure correlated with use of layover areas during a migration night. Understanding bat behavior during migration can provide pertinent information for land managers to consider in efforts to conserve potential migration corridors, foraging areas, and roosting habitats of species in decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1501-1511
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 22 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the numerous field and office staff of Copperhead Environmental Consulting, Inc., for their hard work and dedication to this project. This manuscript benefited greatly from the edits of D. Vankat (Copperhead Consulting), T. Carter (Ball State University), and four anonymous reviewers. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) personnel B. Reeves, J. Campbell, C. Simpson, and D. Thames, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) personnel D. Pelren, M. Jennings, M. Armstrong, and L. Andrews were integral for coordination and support. Funding for this project was provided by TWRA, USFWS, and Copperhead Environmental Consulting, Inc., along with transmitter donations by D. Krusac (US Forest Service), K. Morris (Georgia Department of Natural Resources), and D. Brown (Ecological Solutions). The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the United States Government. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the United States Government. J. Yang and E. Vanzant, both of the University of Kentucky, assisted with statistical analyses. This manuscript (#18-09-073) is connected to a project of the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Society of Mammalogists.


  • Chiroptera
  • Indiana bat
  • Myotis sodalis
  • aerial radiotelemetry
  • bat migration
  • bat movement
  • endangered species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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