Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

David Beckett

Committee Chair Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 2

Frank Moore

Committee Member 2 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 3

Carl Qualls

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Mississippi is generally not known for its caves, and consequently its cave flora and fauna remain largely unstudied. From fall 2010 to winter 2013, we studied the bat populations in the three largest caves in Mississippi. The most common (and only) species found in these caves were Myotis austroriparius and Perimyotis subflavus. I collected monthly data on the number of bats per species, behaviors and locations of the bats within the caves, as well as atmospheric data at selected positions within each cave. All three caves were found to have significant temperature differences between seasons (winterPerimyotis subflavus was found in significantly higher numbers during winter, and individuals were usually in torpor. However, an experiment in winter with “marked” (by nearby strings) P. subflavus revealed that the majority of these bats did not remain in their original positions for more than two days. In contrast, M. austroriparius was found in significantly higher numbers in the summer than winters. Two of the caves were used as maternity roosts by M. austroriparius. The largest cave in Mississippi, which unfortunately was highly vandalized, usually contained ~8,000 Myotis austroriparius during the summer months.

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