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Project ID: 14-1-05-7

Year: 2014

Date Started: 09/01/2014

Ending Date:  02/28/2018

Title: Managing with fire to promote the recently listed Florida Bonneted Bat, Eumops floridanus

Project Proposal Abstract: Little is known about the distribution, habitat requirements, and natural history of the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), a species believed to have the most limited geographic distribution of any species of bat in the US. Listed as endangered in October 2013, there is an urgent need for improved understanding of response of the species to common land management activities, as well as improved knowledge of roost site and foraging area selection. The use of prescribed burning on public lands has increased greatly in Florida during the last few decades, and the effects of this practice on bonneted bats is unknown. Fire may provide benefits through creation of new snags that function as roost trees, increases in abundance and diversity of insect prey through promotion of greater herbaceous plant abundance and diversity, and opening of foraging space beneath the canopy. On the other hand, fire may reduce roost abundance by consuming or toppling existing roost structures, cause short-term stress among females during pregnancy, mortality of flightless pups during lactation, and increased risk of predation by necessitating immediate and unanticipated changes in roosts and foraging areas. Given the widespread use of prescribed burning as a management tool within the range of the species, better understanding is badly needed regarding the effects of fire on roost site availability and preference, and on potential short-term risks for this very rare species. This project will examine roosting and foraging ecology of bonneted bats in relation to fire, examining both short- and long-term effects throughout the species range. Our first objective is to examine relationships between bat habitat use and burn history. We will accomplish this through acoustic surveys of bats at numerous randomly selected locations that have experienced a range of fire treatments. Results will be used to develop prescribed fire frequency and seasonality recommendations to enhance benefits to the species. By also including measurements of forest structure and composition in our investigations, we will also be able to provide recommendations on appropriate target habitat conditions useful for managers needing to implement surrogate treatments that mimic fire in areas where burning is not possible (i.e., urban-wildland interfaces). Our second objective is to examine short-term response of bats to fire. For this, we will implement a before-after-control design experiment, using multiple lines of evidence (track bat activity using acoustic surveys, investigate roost site selection using radiotelemetry) shortly before, during, and after prescribed burns conducted during two different seasons to determine if bats switch roosts and relocate foraging activity immediately in response to fire. Results of this investigation will be used to develop recommendations for timing of prescribed burning to minimize harmful short-term effects and maximize benefits for the species. Our overall goal is to generate data that will inform management decisions and policy guidelines. Our results will be disseminated through two peer-reviewed journal articles, two extension documents, two conference presentations, two field days, and several websites.

Principal Investigator: Holly K. Ober

Agency/Organization: University of Florida

Branch or Dept: Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Brian G. Prindle

University of Florida

Office of Research

Budget Contact

Brian G. Prindle

University of Florida

Office of Research

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert A. McCleery

University of Florida

Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge




Big Cypress National Preserve




State Lands




Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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