Murray State Theses and Dissertations


The decline of cave-dwelling bats since the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to North America changed the way communities interact. Disease-mediated competition at the community level can influence the ability of imperiled species to recover because of competitive exclusion. In western Kentucky, tri-colored bats, Perimyotis subflavus, which are susceptible to WNS severely declined following WNS occurrence. During that same period, evening bats, Nycticeius humeralis, which are not susceptible to WNS increased markedly. To investigate the influence of WNS on community structure, the diets of sympatric tri-colored and evening bats were assessed. Guano was collected from evening (n=37) and tri-colored (n=9) bats captured in mist-nets to identify the prey consumed using morphological techniques and DNA metabarcoding. Coleoptera (beetles) and Diptera (flies) were identified as the most commonly consumed prey items for both bat species. Further, the data indicated that evening bats and tri-colored bats specialized on Carabidae (ground beetles) and Chironomidae (non-biting midges), respectively. There was high interspecific dietary niche overlap observed at the ordinal level, but not at the species level. These results suggest these bats may partition resources at lower taxonomic levels, such as genus or species, and that competition for food with evening bats is not likely to inhibit the recovery of tri-colored bats. Collectively, our data contribute to the understanding of the prey requirements of an imperiled and an expanding bat species that can aid the development of effective conservation practices.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

bats, diet, metabarcoding, partitioning, disease, communities

Thesis Advisor

Terry L. Derting

Committee Member

Gary T. ZeRuth

Committee Member

Christopher J. Mecklin

Committee Member

Howard H. Whiteman

Committee Member

Mike P. Armstrong

Document Type