Bat Use of Coniferous Forests at Mesa Verde National Park

Research Project: 

8327CNG.2.0

Project Manager: 

Tom O'Shea

Mesa Verde National Park offers important habitat for bats. Recent high-intensity fires, drought, and pest insect infestations have destroyed a large proportion of the park's piñon-juniper, Douglas-fir, and ponderosa pine habitats, but the bat fauna of the park has not been assessed since these widespread changes took place. FORT biologists documented 16 species of bats at Mesa Verde in 2006, which includes all species of bats known from western Colorado. This included the first documentation of a maternity colony of the spotted bat (Euderma maculatum) in Colorado. The high mesas at Mesa Verde, bisected by numerous canyons and cliff faces, provide very favorable roosting habitat for bats, and this was borne out by results of radiotracking bats of several species to roosts. The availability of roosts in crevices in cliffs probably overrides any extensive reliance on piñon or juniper trees and snags as roosts by bats. Additional documentation of the bat fauna, assessment of their reproductive condition, and determination of roosting habits were carried out in 2007, and a final report is in progress.