Conservation and Management of Eastern Big-Eared Bats

Featured SRS Technical Publication

Virginia big-eared bats. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Virginia big-eared bats. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Published in 2012, the U.S. Forest Service publication Conservation and Management of Eastern Big-Eared Bats  brings together the latest knowledge about eastern big-eared bats.

Edited by Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) researcher Susan Loeb, University of Kentucky professor Michael Lacki, and Weyerhauser manager Darren Miller, the publication features proceedings from a 2010 symposium.

The publication represents the first synthesis of this information, much of it previously unpublished, on one of the most common group of bats in the eastern United States. All of the eastern big-eared bat species are of special conservation concern and at risk due to habitat loss, disturbance to caves and summer maternity sites, environmental contaminants, genetic isolation, and disease.

The fifteen chapters of the symposium proceedings include information on biology, ecology, and status of eastern big-eared bats, as well as discussions of conservation and management strategies. “In publishing these proceedings, we wanted to provide an easily accessible publication that managers and biologists can use to draft management strategies and policy,” said Loeb. “We also aimed to further the understanding of the ecology of these important and less-studied species.”

Once you’ve seen them up close, big-eared bats are hard to forget. Their ears are indeed large, sometimes a quarter of the animal’s total length. Big-eared bats are also sometimes known as “lumpy-nosed” bats because of the mitten-shaped glands that lie on either side of their noses. Because of their looks, big-eared bats (genus Corynorhinus) are some of the most recognizable bats of the eastern United States, in a range that extends from West Virginia to Texas and includes Rafinesque’s, Virginia, and Ozark big-eared bats.

Over the past two decades, research on bats in general has increased greatly, as has public understanding–even fascination with—these small nocturnal animals. Much of what is now known comes from studying forest bats using acoustic detectors that pick up the echolocation calls, the sounds bats send out to navigate and find insect prey in the dark. “Unfortunately, much less research has been done on big-eared bats,” said Loeb. “Big-eared bats are whispering bats, which means it’s hard to record their echolocation calls with acoustic detectors. They’re also relatively rare, and difficult to capture because of their high maneuverability.”

Because of these limitations on research, relatively little is known about the size and nature of communities of big-eared bats, their favored habitats, and their responses to forest management.

For more information, email Susan Loeb at

Access the full text of the proceedings.

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