Examination of the Biology of Summer-Roosting Indiana Bats Using Genetic Tools

Research Task: 

RB00CNJ.13.0

Task Manager: 

Sara Oyler-McCance

Despite being listed as an endangered species in 1967 with the full protection of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the rangewide population of Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) has declined by approximately half since listing. The decline has been particularly steep in the southern portion of the range, where managers lack basic information about Indiana bat population dynamics on the summer range. Traditional tracking techniques have not provided researchers with the ability to regularly monitor individual bats throughout a field season. Recently, however, advances in molecular genetic techniques have made it possible to uniquely identify animals using DNA as an individual mark in mark-recapture studies. Preliminary work at FORT has shown that DNA can be successfully (and non-invasively) extracted from Indiana bat fecal pellets collected from beneath roost trees. Further, a suite of highly polymorphic microsatellite loci has been isolated from this species and used to genotype individual Indiana bats. The optimization and success of these techniques now makes it possible to explore the relatedness of Indiana bat maternity colonies and also attempt to estimate population sizes using DNA. Because the need for accurate demographic and relatedness information is great for the management and recovery of the Indiana bat, FORT geneticists will use these techniques to uniquely identify individual bats to (1) investigate genetic relatedness and (2) support a trial mark-recapture study to estimate population size.

For more information contact:

Sara Oyler-McCance

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