Title

Prey Consumed by Insectivorous Bats After the Occurrence of White-Nose Syndrome

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Biology

Minor

N/A

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Terry Derting, PhD; Gary ZeRuth, PhD

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The decline of cave-dwelling bats since the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to North America led to changes in community interactions as evidenced by spatiotemporal partitioning studies. Indirect effects, such as disease-mediated competition at the community level, can influence the ability of imperiled species to recover because of competitive exclusion. To further investigate community structure following WNS, we assessed the diet of sympatric species with differential WNS susceptibility using molecular techniques. In western Kentucky, Perimyotis subflavus (susceptible) populations declined severely following WNS occurrence. Conversely, Nycticeius humeralis (non-susceptible) populations are increasing. We collected guano from N. humeralis (n=38) and P. subflavus (n=9) during summer 2016. Arthropod DNA was extracted from the guano and a 157 bp target region of insect-COI was amplified. Sequences were analyzed to the lowest taxonomic level provided by the online Barcode of Life Database. Nycticeius humeralis consumed 165 genera belonging to 12 arthropod orders, while P. subflavus ate 92 genera from 8 arthropod orders. All orders consumed by P. subflavus were also eaten by N. humeralis, while 33% percent of all orders occurred exclusively in N. humeralis. Furthermore, N. humeralis consumed 61% of the genera identified in P. subflavus. These data support the potential of increased niche overlap between the two species based on 1) the more generalist habits of N. humeralis and 2) high dietary similarity between N. humeralis and P. subflavus. An increase in niche overlap may suppress the recovery of P. subflavus populations.

Affiliations

Watershed Research Institute, OTHER Affiliation

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Prey Consumed by Insectivorous Bats After the Occurrence of White-Nose Syndrome

The decline of cave-dwelling bats since the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to North America led to changes in community interactions as evidenced by spatiotemporal partitioning studies. Indirect effects, such as disease-mediated competition at the community level, can influence the ability of imperiled species to recover because of competitive exclusion. To further investigate community structure following WNS, we assessed the diet of sympatric species with differential WNS susceptibility using molecular techniques. In western Kentucky, Perimyotis subflavus (susceptible) populations declined severely following WNS occurrence. Conversely, Nycticeius humeralis (non-susceptible) populations are increasing. We collected guano from N. humeralis (n=38) and P. subflavus (n=9) during summer 2016. Arthropod DNA was extracted from the guano and a 157 bp target region of insect-COI was amplified. Sequences were analyzed to the lowest taxonomic level provided by the online Barcode of Life Database. Nycticeius humeralis consumed 165 genera belonging to 12 arthropod orders, while P. subflavus ate 92 genera from 8 arthropod orders. All orders consumed by P. subflavus were also eaten by N. humeralis, while 33% percent of all orders occurred exclusively in N. humeralis. Furthermore, N. humeralis consumed 61% of the genera identified in P. subflavus. These data support the potential of increased niche overlap between the two species based on 1) the more generalist habits of N. humeralis and 2) high dietary similarity between N. humeralis and P. subflavus. An increase in niche overlap may suppress the recovery of P. subflavus populations.