Great Basin Naturalist


Seasonal movements, roost-site fidelity, and foraging activity patterns are largely unknown for western populations of Townsend's big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii). We used miniature radiotelemetry units to track springtime movements of six bats inhabiting forested lava flows in central Oregon, and found that bats moved up to 24 km from hibernacula to foraging areas. Individual bats returned to the same foraging area on successive nights but shifted to different areas in presumed response to changes in insect availability. Both sexes apparently use a series of interim roost sites between emergence from hibernation and the time females enter into maternity colonies, with little individual fidelity to these sites. In regions characterized by extensive lava-flow topography, suitable daytime roosts are numerous and dispersed over a large area, allowing bats to move relatively great distances to locate foraging ranges. Hence, the actual area of concern for effective management of individual populations can be considerably larger than indicated solely by locations of hibernacula and maternity caves of this declining species.