Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Emma V. Willcox

Committee Members

Josh R. Campbell, Mona Papes, John M. Zobel


Tri-colored bat populations are declining in eastern North America where the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans has been introduced. The pathogen causes disease and mortality in cave hibernating bats. Once considered a common species in Tennessee, tri-colored bats are now being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. There is a paucity of research examining the basic ecology of tri-colored bats. Research to fill these knowledge gaps is needed to inform conservation plans and to define critical habitat. The first objective of my research was to characterize the summer diurnal roosts of tri-colored bats and to examine roost selection at the forest stand and landscape scale. The second objective was to determine the size of tri-colored bat foraging ranges and determine land cover selection of foraging tri-colored bats. During the summers of 2016/17, I radio-tagged 7 male tri-colored bats. I visually confirmed 15 roosts of male tri-colored bats. The roosts were primarily in clumps of dead oak (Quercus spp.) and hickory (Carya spp.) leaves. Forest stand characteristics were not good predictors of male tri-colored bat roost selection likely due to homogeneity of forests within my study area. At the landscape scale, tri-colored bats selected roosts near the intersect of the Eastern Highland Rim and Cumberland Escarpment physiographic subregions. Roosts were in large tracts of mature forest near more open land covers of the Eastern Highland Rim. Additionally, tri-colored bats selected roosts further from streams, yet with a higher density of streams around the roost tree. Male tri-colored bats traveled a long nightly mean maximum distance (11.4 km ± 7.1 SD) from their roost area while foraging. They also had relatively large 95% minimum convex polygon foraging ranges (2350 ha ± 3303 SD). Male tri-colored bats selected fixed kernel density foraging ranges with less forest cover than available (Λ = 0.085, P = 0.014) and core foraging ranges with more open water and wetlands than available (Λ = 0.11, P = 0.03). Conservation plans for tri-colored bats should protect large tracts of mature oak-hickory forests near waterbodies where tri-colored bats forage.

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