We compared conventional capture (primarily mist nets and harp traps) and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagging techniques for estimating capture and survival probabilities of big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) roosting in buildings in Fort Collins, Colorado. A total of 987 female adult and juvenile bats were captured and marked by subdermal injection of PIT tags during the summers of 2001–2005 at five maternity colonies in buildings. Openings to roosts were equipped with PIT hoop-style readers, and exit and entry of bats were passively monitored on a daily basis throughout the summers of 2002–2005. PIT readers ‘recaptured’ adult and juvenile females more often than conventional capture events at each roost. Estimates of annual capture probabilities for all five colonies were on average twice as high when estimated from PIT reader data ( p̂ = 0.93–1.00) than when derived from conventional techniques ( p̂ = 0.26–0.66), and as a consequence annual survival estimates were more precisely estimated when using PIT reader encounters. Short-term, daily capture estimates were also higher using PIT readers than conventional captures. We discuss the advantages and limitations of using PIT tags and passive encounters with hoop readers vs. conventional capture techniques for estimating these vital parameters in big brown bats.
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