Unraveling the effects of sex and dispersal: Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) conservation genetics

Weyandt, S. E., R. A. Van Den Bussche, M. J. Hamilton, and D. M. Leslie, Jr.

The Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) is federally listed as endangered and is found in only a small number of caves in eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas. Previous studies suggested site fidelity of females to maternity caves; however, males are solitary most of the year, and thus specific information on their behavior and roosting patterns is lacking. Population genetic variation often provides the necessary data to make inferences about gene flow or mating behavior within that population. We used 2 types of molecular data: DNA sequences from the mitochondrial D loop and alleles at 5 microsatellite loci. Approximately 5% of the population, 24 males and 39 females (63 individuals), were sampled. No significant differentiation between 5 sites was present in nuclear microsatellite variation, but distribution of variation in maternally inherited markers differed among sites. This suggests limited dispersal of female Ozark big-eared bats and natal philopatry. Areas that experience local extinctions are unlikely to be recolonized by species that show strong site fidelity. These results provide a greater understanding of the population dynamics of Ozark big-eared bats and highlight the importance of cave protection relative to maintaining genetic integrity during recovery activities for this listed species.

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Weyandt, S. E., R. A. Van Den Bussche, M. J. Hamilton, and D. M. Leslie, Jr.. 2005. Unraveling the effects of sex and dispersal: Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) conservation genetics. Journal of Mammalogy 86(6):1136-1143.