Winter Roosting Ecology of Red Bats (Lasiurus Borealis) in Southwest Missouri

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Lynn Robbins


Red bats (Lasiurus borealis) are one of the most commonly encountered bats in eastern North America, yet until recently, modest attention has been given to their natural history and over-wintering strategies. I have examined the red bat’s use of winter roosts in southwest Missouri. Radio-telemetry was used to track red bats for two winters (2003-2005) to diurnal roost sites. Eleven red bats were located in 36 tree roosts that consisted of 44.4% eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and 55.6% hardwoods, including white oaks (Quercus spp.), red oaks (Quercus spp.), and a dogwood (Cornus florida). Ninety-seven percent of roost sites in three were located on the south aspect of the canopy, while 91% of the roost trees were found on southern facing slopes. Canopy cover was significantly different between northern and southern sides of tree roosts, with roost sites occurring significantly more frequently in the location with least canopy cover. Ten red bats were successfully tracked to tree roosts, switched from tree roosts to leaf litter roosts when ambient temperatures approached or fell below freezing. Leaf litter depth, percent leaf litter ground cover, density of woody stems, average diameter of trees, and aspect of roosts were found to be determining factors in the selection of winter leaf litter roosts. Management of over-wintering red bats may require a more serious look at the use of winter/spring forest burns and the availability of oak/cedar forests.


Chiroptera, red bat, Lasiurus borealis, roosts, winter

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© Brad M. Mormann