Date Approved

4-15-2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

Committee Member

Allen Kurta, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Katherine Greenwald, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve Francoeur, Ph.D.

Abstract

Populations of bats across the eastern United States have experienced significant declines in recent years. Insight into their distributions and habitat associations, as well as understanding population trends, will aid in conservation efforts. In this study, the geographic distributions of the 10 species of bats found in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia were analyzed, using maximum entropy modeling and mist-netting data from 1997 through 2012. Forest type, hydrologic features, elevation, land-cover type, and distance to caves were typically the most important explanatory variables within these models, although results varied among species. By understanding these foraging habitat associations and locations of bats, forest personnel will be able to use these localized data to guide their management decisions. Trends in species diversity and abundance also were examined. Species diversity remained mostly stable and although not significant, a decline in abundance over time indicated decreases in some populations of bats, particularly by those species affected by white-nose syndrome.

Included in

Biology Commons

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