Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 51:47-57; 2019
We surveyed bats at 49 sites in the Loess Hills Ecoregion of southeastern Nebraska, along the western edge of the eastern forest biome in eastern Richardson, Nemaha, and Otoe counties. We completed this study shortly before the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) was listed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. The expectation of listing, along with potential presence of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), motivated the study. We captured 183 bats of five species: eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) (n = 103; 56 %), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) (n = 47; 26 %), evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis) (n = 27; 15 %), hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) (n = 4; 2 %), and northern long-eared bat (n = 2; 1 %). The mean catch per net site was 3.7 bats (SD = 4.8). The Eastern red bat was captured most commonly and at the most sites. We established the first record of this species from Nemaha County, with reproduction documented in all three counties. More reproductive female red bats were captured than adult males. Big brown bat captures consisted of approximately equal proportions adult males, reproductive females, and volant young of year. We established the first records for big brown bat reproduction in Otoe and Nemaha counties. Only reproductive female and juvenile evening bats were captured, with geographic and reproductive records established for all three counties. Captures of the hoary bat, a lactating female at one site and two juveniles at another, represented a Nemaha County geographic and reproductive record. We radio-tagged a non-reproductive female and an adult male northern long-eared bat from Otoe County and tracked them to roosts along the Missouri River, 3.43 and 2.03 km from the net site, respectively. We completed four emergence counts at each roost, with each bat exiting its respective roost on only one evening and neither bat visiting the other roost. We never documented more than three individuals exiting each roost on a given night. Overall, this study documented relatively low abundance, species richness, and species diversity when compared to studies in the eastern United States.