Program Specific Mammal Research
- Mississippi Bat Conservation
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General Mammal Research Topics
- Distribution of Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) and Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) in Mississippi
- Distribution of Oldfield mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) and Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Mississippi
- Mammal surveys of Wildlife Management Areas in Mississippi
Mississippi Bat Conservation:
Contact Bat Research and Collection Technician
There are over 1,300 known bat species that occur worldwide except for remote islands and areas near the North and South pole. Bats make up the second largest order of mammals, second only to rodents. All bats in Mississippi are insectivorous. 15 species of bats have been documented in Mississippi, three of which are federally listed. The Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) and the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) are listed as endangered and the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) is listed as threatened. These bats and six other are considered species of special concern in Mississippi.
Threats to bats include white-nose syndrome, habitat destruction, and poor public image. White-nose syndrome has caused the death of over 5.7 million bats in North America. Bats are slow to recover from impacts since majority of species have one pup per year. Most bat species rely heavily on forested habitats to provide both roosting and foraging sites. Some bats have adapted to man-made structures such as bat houses, bridges, buildings, and culverts for roost sites. Research is necessary to understand where different species of bats occur and at what abundance. Outreach programs to educate the public are necessary for people to understand facts about bats such as bats are not blind and less than 0.5% of bats has rabies. Bats play a very important ecological role of regulating the insect population and the health of natural ecosystems as well as human economies.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science contributes to the conservation of bats through research and education. Bat research and conservation projects include:
- Surveying hibernacula such as caves, culverts, and bridges and testing for the fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that is responsible for white-nose syndrome. Since the start of the surveillance program in 2012, six counties have tested positive for the fungus. We have yet to see visible fungus on a bat.
- Conducting mist net, harp net, and acoustic surveys throughout the state to determine species diversity, relative abundance, and distribution of Mississippi bats.
- Surveying maternity colonies in caves, culverts, bridges, cisterns, and abandoned buildings to understand life history of our bat species.
- Educating the public with outreach programs for all ages to dispel common myths about bats, provide information on the importance of bats, and how to protect them.
Links of Interest
- Mississippi Bat Working Group
- Southeastern Bat Diversity Network
- Bat Conservation International
- White-Nose Syndrome Response Team
- Bat checklist for Mississippi including conservation status and roosting preferences)
- Bats and rabies fact sheet
- Checklist of ecological benefits that bats provide
- Common misconceptions dispelled