A Stage-Structured, Spatially Explicit Migration Model for Myotis Bats
Mortality location affects system dynamics
Bats are ecologically and economically important species because they consume insects, transport nutrients, and pollinate flowers. Many species of bats, including those in the Myotis genus, are facing population decline and increased extinction risk. Despite these conservation concerns, few models exist for providing insight into the population dynamics of bats in a spatially explicit context. We developed a model for bats by considering the stage-structured colonial life history of Myotis bats with their annual migration behavior. This model provided insight into network dynamics. We specifically focused on two Myotis species living in the eastern United States: the Indiana bat (M. sodalis), which is a Federally listed endangered species, and the little brown bat (M. lucifugus), which is under consideration for listing as an endangered species. We found that multiple equilibria exist for the local, migratory subpopulations even though the total population was constant. These equilibria suggest the location and magnitude of stressors such as White-nose Syndrome, meteorological phenomena, or impacts of wind turbines on survival influence system dynamics and risk of population extirpation in difficult to predict ways.