Discovering the Ecology of the Florida Bonneted Bat

To study the ecology of Florida bonneted bats in the USA

 

The Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) is one of the rarest and least understood species of bats in the world. This large subtropical species occupies diverse ecological conditions, such as expansive pine flatwoods, remnant pine rockland fragments, hardwood hammocks and urban parks. But, it remains in very low abundance, spread out throughout its endemic range of only a few counties in South Florida. Because of its low total population numbers, rapid development of the landscape in which it is found, susceptibility to severe weather events and human disturbance, it is gaining federal endangered species designation in 2013 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

 

Zoo Miami is fortunate to be the stewards of hundreds of acres of globally imperilled pine rockland that contains a multitude of state and federal endangered and threatened species, which includes the Florida bonneted bat. Zoo staff is engaged in an USFWS funded systematic acoustical survey of zoo grounds, an adjacent county park and county preserve to document the activity of this rare species, with the hopes of identifying early emergence sites and important foraging locations. After the year-long survey has concluded, early emergent sites will be more closely scrutinised to try and discover roosting locations, natural or otherwise.

 

Much of the basic ecology of the Florida bonneted bat is unknown. Roosting preference, diet, seasonal variations in habitat use, preferred habitats, home ranges, social structure and fecundity are all poorly described or unknown. The discovery of roosting sites and continued monitoring will allow for further description of these aspects of the species in this part of its range. Given that some of the known populations of this bat occur in some completely urbanised areas, it is likely that they are roosting in locations that place them in danger of human disturbance. The placement of specially designed bat houses, which they have been known to occupy, will be placed in protected habitat to give the bats alternative roosting locations that will remain free from disturbance or development.

 

WAZA Conservation Project 13006 is implemented and funded by Zoo Miami. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Visit www.miamimetrozoo.com.

 

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  • Florida Bonneted Bat Conservation

    Florida Bonneted Bat Conservation

    (1) - (3) © Frank Ridgley/Zoo Miami

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