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Project ID: 09-1-08-2

Year: 2009

Date Started: 10/01/2009

Date Completed: 09/23/2014

Title: The Effects Prescribed Fire on Roosting Habitat of the Endangered Indiana Bat, Myotis sodalis

Project Proposal Abstract: We propose to investigate the compatibility of fuel treatments and fire management with the conservation and recovery of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) in the southern Appalachian Mountains (JFSP RFA 09-0001, Task H). Little is known about the ecology of Indiana bats in the southern Appalachians but, based on some recent studies, primary maternity roosts are typically under the sloughing bark of dead yellow pines (Pinus spp.) on mid and upper slopes in mixed pine-hardwood stands. Prescribed fire is an important tool for the restoration of oak (Quercus) and yellow pine forests in the southern Appalachians and resource managers implement landscape-scale dormant season burns that mimic natural lightning-set fires. In the absence of regular fire, yellow pines will ultimately be replaced by hardwoods, even on ridgetops, and oaks will be replaced by more shade-tolerant species. The effects of large-scale prescribed burning on Indiana bats are largely unknown and thus, concerns about the direct and indirect effects of fire on Indiana bats are one of the key factors determining when and where managers can implement burns in the southern Appalachians. Fire may benefit Indiana bats by sustaining pine forests and by creating open canopy conditions and large snags. However, studies in the western U.S. have shown that prescribed burns result in a net loss of large snags after a long period of fire exclusion. The objectives of our study are to: 1) test the effects of prescribed fire on snag population dynamics, 2) measure availability of snags suitable for Indiana bats in relation to fire history and landscape position, and 3) examine roost tree selection by Indiana bats in relation to fire history. We will conduct our research in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina on the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Snags will be censused pre- and post-burn in prescribed fire treatment and control sites at multiple landscape positions in each study area to determine the effects of species, size, decomposition state, fire intensity, and slope position on snag dynamics. We will also determine the availability of snags suitable for Indiana bat roosts in multiple landscape positions in stands across a range of prescribed fire histories. Radio telemetry studies will be used to identify the multi-scale characteristics of trees used as day roosts by Indiana bats in pine-hardwood stands in landscapes managed with prescribed fire. Technology transfer activities will include a continuously updated website with study activities, results and products, and a 1½ day workshop and field tour at the end of the project to provide a forum for discussion on the use of prescribed fire within the range of the Indiana bat. Additional products will include at least 2 refereed publications, a spatial database and model of snag dynamics, and a spatial database for Indiana bat roosts on all 3 federal properties. The proposed study will provide managers with a better understanding of the effects of burning on snag populations, which will aid in the development of prescribed fire plans that are consistent with Indiana bat conservation and recovery. The primary goal for this study is to generate a substantial set of data to inform management decisions and policy guidelines that can balance the needs of Indiana bats with the needs of the fire-adapted ecosystem in which they exist.

Principal Investigator: Susan C. Loeb

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: SRS-Department of Forest Resources

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Joy N. O'Keefe

Clemson University

Department of Forestry & Natural Resources

Federal Cooperator

Robert N. Klein Jr.

NPS-National Park Service

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Federal Fiscal Representative

Shelly M. Gates

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network










Nantahala National Forest




Cherokee National Forest




Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   3751 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print go to website 3700 Journal Article PLoS One
view or print   333 MS Thesis Summer Indiana bat ecology in the southern Appalachians: landscape scale roost selection
    7570 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Prescribed Fire and Indiana Bats
    7571 Dataset (including spatial) Locations and attributes of Indiana bat roosts

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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