Cookies Notification

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.

Microhabitat of Myotis leibii summer roosts at the southwestern periphery of their range

Publication: Canadian Journal of Zoology
19 June 2023


Understanding microhabitat use is needed to make sound conservation decisions for at-risk, patchy-habitat specialists, such as rock-habitat specialists. Rock habitats offer unique microclimatic refugia for reptiles and mammals. Eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii (Audubon and Bachman, 1842)) use rock roosts during the summer, but data on these summer roosts are lacking for this species classified as (critically) imperiled in several US states and Canadian provinces and globally endangered. Our goal was to characterize the structure and microclimate of Myotis leibii roosts at the southwestern periphery of their range. We predicted that Myotis leibii roost temperatures would be warmer and less variable than ambient temperatures and that solitary bats would use horizontal roosts cooler at night, whereas maternity group roosts would be vertical and warmer at night. During summers of 2019 and 2020, we recorded physical (e.g., width) and temperature attributes of 58 Myotis leibii roosts at 16 sites in the Ouachita Mountains. Crevice roosts of Myotis leibii had narrow dimensions like elsewhere in their range and roost temperatures (measured with iButtons) were warmer and more variable than ambient temperatures. Group roosts were larger and had more stable temperatures than solitary roosts. These findings may be useful for assessing population threats, monitoring roost suitability, identifying roost-rich areas that need protection, and even planning artificial roost structures where natural roosts are limited.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this article.


Abdel-Moneim A.S., Abdelwhab E.M. 2020. Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 infection of animal hosts. Pathogens, 9(7): 1–22.
Alves D.M.C.C., Terribile L.C., Brito D. 2014. The potential impact of white-nose syndrome on the conservation status of North American bats. PLoS ONE, 9: e107395.
Baguette M. 2004. The classical metapopulation theory and the real natural world: a critical appraisal. Basic Appl. Ecol. 5(3): 213–224.
Bates D., Maechler M., Bolker B., Walker S. 2015. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J.Stat. Softw. 67(1): 1–48.
Benedict L.M., Wiebe M., Plichta M., Batts H., Johnson J., Monk E., Ray C. 2020. Microclimate and summer surface activity in the American pika (Ochotona princeps). West. N. Am. Nat. 80(3): 316–329.
Best T.L., Jennings J.B. 1997. Myotis leibii. Mamm. Species, 547: 1–6.
Betke M., Hirsh D.E., Makris N.C., McCracken G.F., Procopio M., Hristov N.I., et al. 2008. Thermal imaging reveals significantly smaller Brazilian free-tailed bat colonies than previously estimated. J. Mammal. 89(1): 18–24.
Boyles J.G. 2007. Describing roosts used by forest bats: the importance of microclimate. Acta Chiropt. 9(1): 297–303.
Burnham K.P., Anderson D.R. 2002. Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New York, New York.
Chruszcz B.J., Barclay R.M.R. 2002. Thermoregulatory ecology of a solitary bat, Myotis evotis, roosting in rock crevices. Funct. Ecol. 16(1): 18–26.
Ebert E., Hottinger J.W., Pajunen I. 2013. Unsuitable habitat patches lead to severe underestimation of dynamics and gene flow in a zooplankton metapopulation. J. Anim. Ecol. 82(4): 759–769.
Fowler A., Anderson J. 2015. Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Little Rock, AR. Available from [accessed 10 September 2019].
Garroway C.J., Broders H.G. 2007. Nonrandom association patterns at northern long-eared bat maternity roosts. Can. J. Zool. 85(9): 956–964.
Goldingay R.L., Stevens J.R. 2009. Use of artificial tree hollows by Australian birds and bats. Wildl. Res. 36(2): 91–97.
Hamilton I.M., Barclay R.M.R. 1994. Patterns of daily torpor and day-roost selection by male and female big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Can. J. Zool. 72(4): 744–749.
Herz T., King L., Gubler H. 2003. Microclimate within coarse debris of talus slopes in the alpine periglacial belt and its effect on permafrost. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Permafrost; 21–25 July 2003, Zürich, Switzerland. Balkema Publishers, Lisse, Netherlands. pp. 383–387.
Hoeh J.P.S., Bakken G.S., Mitchell W.A., O’Keefe J.M. 2018. In artificial roost comparison, bats show preference for rocket box style. PLoS ONE, 13(10): e0205701.
Holloway G.L., Barclay R.M.R. 2001. Myotis ciliolabrum. Mamm. Species, 670: 1–5.
Hunter M., Cresswell W. 2014. Factors affecting the distribution and abundance of the endangered volcano rabbit Romerolagus diazi on the Iztaccihuatl volcano, Mexico. Oryx, 49(2): 366–375.
Johnson J.B., Gates J.E., Ford W.M. 2009. Notes on foraging activity of female Myotis leibii in Maryland. US Forest Service, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Available from [accessed 11 September 2019].
Johnson J.S., Kiser J.D., Watrous K.S., Peterson T.S. 2011. Day-roosts of Myotis leibii in the Appalachian ridge and valley of West Virginia. Northeast. Nat. 18(1): 95–106.
Johnson J.S., Scafini M.R., Sewall B.J., Turner G.G. 2016. Hibernating bat species in Pennsylvania use colder winter habitats following the arrival of white-nose syndrome. In Conservation and ecology of Pennsylvania’s bats. Edited by C.M. Butchkoski, D.M. Reeder, G.G. Turner, H.P. Whidden. The Pennsylvania Academy of Science, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. pp. 181–199.
Kearny V., Perry R.W., Risch T.S., Rolland V. 2022. Distribution and roost site selection of Eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii) in mountains of west-central Arkansas. Southeast. Nat. 21(2): 74–92.
Kerth G., Weissmann K., Konig B. 2001. Day roost selection in female Bechstein’s bats (Myotis bechsteinii): a field experiment to determine the influence of roost temperature. Oecologia, 126(1): 1–9.
Korpela E.L., Hyvonen T., Kuussaari M. 2015. Logging in boreal field-forest ecotones promotes flower-visiting insect diversity and modifies insect community composition. Insect Conserv. Divers. 8(2): 152–162.
Kunz T.H. 1982. Roosting ecology of bats. In Ecology of bats. Edited by T.H. Kunz. Plenum Publishing, New York, New York. pp. 1–35.
Lacki M.J., Baker M.D. 2007. Day roosts of female fringed Myotis (Myotis thysanodes) in xeric forests of the Pacific Northwest. J. Mammal. 88(4): 967–973.
Lausen C.L. 2007. Roosting ecology and landscape genetics of prairie bats. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Calgary. Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Lausen C.L., Barclay R.M.R. 2002. Roosting behavior and roost selection of female big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) roosting in rock crevices in southeastern Alberta. Can. J. Zool. 80(6): 1069–1076.
Lausen C.L., Barclay R.M.R. 2006. Benefits of living in a building: big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) in rocks versus buildings. J. Mammal. 87(2): 362–370.
Lima S.L., O’Keefe J.M. 2013. Do predators influence the behaviour of bats? Biol. Rev. 88(3): 626–644.
Mares M.A. 1997. The geobiological interface: granite outcrops as a selective force in mammalian evolution. J. R. Soc. West. Aust. 80(3): 131–139.
Mazerolle M.J. 2019. AICcmodavg: Model selection and multimodel inference based on (Q) AIC (c). R package version 2.2-2. Available from [accessed April 2020].
Moosman P.R. Jr., Warner D.P., Hendren R.H., Hosler M.J. 2015. Potential for monitoring eastern small-footed bats on talus slopes. Northeast. Nat. 22(1): 1–13.
Moosman P.R. Jr., Marsh D.M., Pody E.K., Dannon M.P., Reynolds R.J. 2020. Efficacy of visual surveys for monitoring populations of talus-roosting bats. J. Fish Wildl. Manag. 11(2): 1–12.
Moran M.D., Cox A.B., Wells R.L., Benichou C.C., McClung M.R. 2015. Habitat loss and modification due to gas development in the Fayetteville shale. Environ. Manage. 55(6): 1276–1284.
Morgan C.N., Ammerman L.K., Demere K.D., Doty J.B., Nakazawa Y.J., Mauldin M.R. 2019. Field identification key and guide for bats of the United States of America. Occasional papers. Texas Tech University Museum. Vol. 360, pp. 1–25.
National Centers for Environmental Information and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2020. U.S. Annual/Seasonal Cimate Normals (2006–2020). Available from [accessed 15 September 2021].
NatureServe. 2022. Myotis leibii. NatureServe Network Biodiversity Location Data accessed through NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available from [accessed 31 August 2022].
Olson C.R., Barclay R.M.R. 2013. Concurrent changes in group size and roost use by reproductive female little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). Can. J. Zool. 91(3): 149–155.
Pike D.A., Webb J.K., Shine R. 2011. Chainsawing for conservation: ecologically informed tree removal for habitat management. Ecol. Manag. Restor. 12(2): 110–118.
Popa-Lisseanu A.G., Bontadina A., Mora O., Ibanez C. 2008. Highly structured fission–fusion societies in an aerial-hawking carnivorous bat. Anim. Behav. 75(2): 471–482.
R Core Team. 2019. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Available from  [accessed June 2023].
Radmanovic K., Dukic I., Pervan S. 2014. Specific heat capacity of wood. Drv. Ind. 65(2): 151–157.
Roble S.M. 2004. Notes on an autumn roost of an eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii). Banisteria, 23: 42–44.
Sasse D.B., Risch T.S., Saugey D.A., Harvey M.J., Wilhide J.D., Redman R.K., et al. 2013. New records of the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) in Arkansas. J. Arkansas Acad. Sci. 67(1): 214–216.
Saugey D.A., McDaniel V.R., England D.R., Rowe M.C., Chandler-Mozisel L.R., Cochran B.G. 1993. Arkansas range extensions of the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) and northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and additional county records for the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius), and Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Plecotus rafinesquii). J. Arkansas Acad. Sci. 47(1): 102–106. Available from [accessed May 2023].
Schärli U., Rybach L. 2001. Determination of specific heat capacity on rock fragments. Geothermics, 30(1): 93–110.
Scott L.M. 2022. Differences and similarities in exploration and risk-taking behaviours of two myotis bat species. M.S. thesis, Trent University, Canada. Available from [accessed 14 February 2023].
Sedgeley J.A. 2001. Quality of cavity microclimate as a factor influencing selection of maternity roosts by a tree-dwelling bat, chalinolobus tuberculatus, in New Zealand. J. Appl. Ecol. 38(2): 425–438.
Sherpa S., Kebaili C., Rioux D., Gueguen M., Renaud J., Despres L. 2022. Population decline at distribution margins: Assessing extinction risk in the last glacial relictual but still functional metapopulation of a European butterfly. Divers. Distrib. 28(2): 271–290.
Sikes R.S., The Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists. 2016. 2016 Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research and education. J. Mammal. 97(3): 663–688.
Smith G.R., Ballinger R.E. 2001. The ecological consequences of habitat and microhabitat use in lizards: a review. Contemp. Herpetol. 3: 1–28.
Solari S. 2018. Myotis leibii.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Vol. 2018, pp. e.T14172A22055716.
Solick D.I., Barclay R.M.R. 2006. Thermoregulation and roosting behaviour of reproductive and nonreproductive female western long-eared bats (Myotis evotis) in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Can. J. Zool. 84(4): 589–599.
Speakman J.R., Stone R.E., Kerslake J.E. 1995. Temporal patterns in the emergence behavior of pipistrelle bats, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, from maternity colonies are consistent with an anti-predator response. Anim. Behav. 50(5): 1147–1156.
Thomson T. 2013. Roost ecology of eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii) in the southern Appalachian Mountains. M.S. thesis, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana. Available from [accessed 9 August 2022].
Turner G.G., Reeder D., Coleman J.T.H. 2011. A five-year assessment of mortality and geographic spread of white-nose syndrome in North American bats, with a look to the future. Bat Res. News, 52(2): 13–27.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2013. Twelve-month finding on a petition to list the Eastern Small-footed Bat and the Northern Long-eared Bat as endangered or threatened species. Washington, D.C. Available from Accessed 11 September 2019. [accessed June 2023]. 
Varner J., Dearing M.D. 2014. The importance of biologically relevant microclimates in habitat suitability assessments. PLoS ONE, 9(8): 1–9.
Vaughan T.A., O'Shea T.J. 1976. Roosting ecology of the pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus. J. Mammal. 57(1): 19–42.
Wang L.C.H., Wolowyck M.W. 1988. Torpor in mammals and birds. Can. J. Zool. 66(1): 133–137.
Webber Q.M.R., Willis C.K.R. 2018. An experimental test of effects of ambient temperature and roost quality on aggregation by little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). J. Ther. Biol. 74: 174–180.
Welch J.N., Lappanen C. 2017. The threat of invasive species to bats: a review. Mamm. Rev. 47(4): 277–290.
Whitby M., Bergeson S., Carter T., Rutan S., McClanahan R. 2013. The discovery of a reproductive population of eastern small-footed bats, Myotis leibii, in southern Illinois using a novel survey method. Am. Midl. Nat. 169(1): 229–233.
Wickham J., Wood P.B., Nicholson M.C., Jenkins W., Druckenbrod D., Suter G.W., et al. 2013. The overlooked terrestrial impacts of mountaintop mining. BioScience, 63(5): 335–348.
Willis C.K.R., Brigham R.M. 2007. Social thermoregulation exerts more influence than microclimate on forest roost preferences by a cavity-dwelling bat. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 62(1): 97–108.
Yanahan A.D., Moore W. 2019. Impacts of 21st-century climate change on montane habitat in the Madrean Sky Island Archipelago. Divers. Distrib. 25(10): 1625–1638.

Supplementary material

Supplementary Material 1 (DOCX / 16.3 KB).
Supplementary Material 2 (DOCX / 6.33 MB).

Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Zoology
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Volume 101Number 9September 2023
Pages: 754 - 763


Received: 16 September 2022
Accepted: 11 April 2023
Accepted manuscript online: 23 May 2023
Version of record online: 19 June 2023

Data Availability Statement

Code and data generated or analyzed during this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


Request permissions for this article.

Key Words

  1. Eastern small-footed bat
  2. microhabitat
  3. Myotis leibii
  4. rock roosts
  5. summer roost
  6. temperature



Valerie M. Kearny
Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 599, State University, AR 72467, USA
Author Contributions: Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing – original draft, and Writing – review & editing.
Roger W. Perry
Forest Service Southern Research Station, P.O. Box 1270, Hot Springs, AR 71902, USA
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Resources, and Writing – review & editing.
Thomas S. Risch
Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 599, State University, AR 72467, USA
Arkansas Biosciences Institute, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 639, State University, AR 72467, USA
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, and Writing – review & editing.
Current address for Thomas Risch: Office of Research, Rutgers University-Camden, 303 Cooper Street, Camden, NJ 08102, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 599, State University, AR 72467, USA
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Project administration, Supervision, Validation, and Writing – review & editing.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: RWP, TSR, VR
Data curation: VMK
Formal analysis: VMK
Funding acquisition: RWP, TSR, VR
Investigation: VMK
Methodology: VMK
Project administration: VR
Resources: RWP
Supervision: VR
Validation: VR
Writing – original draft: VMK
Writing – review & editing: VMK, RWP, TSR, VR

Competing Interests

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

Funding Information

This project was funded in part by the State Wildlife Grants Program (Grant #AR-T-F18AF01171) of the US Fish and Wildlife Service through an agreement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Additional funding was provided by the Arkansas Audubon Society.

Metrics & Citations


Other Metrics


Cite As

Export Citations

If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click Download.

There are no citations for this item

View Options

Get Access

Login options

Check if you access through your login credentials or your institution to get full access on this article.


Click on the button below to subscribe to Canadian Journal of Zoology

Purchase options

Purchase this article to get full access to it.

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options


View PDF

Full Text

View Full Text





Share Options


Share the article link

Share on social media