Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Allen Kurta, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margaret Hanes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Francoeur, Ph.D.


White-nose syndrome is a cutaneous fungal disease that has been detrimental to North American bats for over 10 years, but few investigators have examined the natural microbiota living on these mammals. I explored the influence of season, geographic site, host species, and body region on the external microbiome of four cave-hibernating and two migratory species. Automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis was used to profile bacterial communities from three cutaneous regions of 222 bats across winter and summer sites in Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky. Season, site, host species, and body region all influenced the composition of external bacterial communities, but geographic site explained more than twice the variability of the other factors overall. The extent that communities were affected by these factors varied with the body region sampled. This study should help guide future work with the external microbiome of bats and its relation to a host’s health or natural history.