Movements, distribution, and roosting requirements of most species of temperate-zone bats in autumn are poorly understood. We conducted the 1st radiotelemetry study of autumn migrations and prehibernation roost selection of bats in western North America. Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus, n = 55) in the Poudre River watershed, Colorado, moved from low-elevation summer ranges to high-elevation locations in autumn, where they roosted in rock crevices during the period leading up to winter hibernation. We characterized rock crevices used as roosts in autumn at these higher elevations at microhabitat and landscape scales. We used logistic regression combined with an information theoretic approach to determine which variables were most important in roost selection. At the microhabitat scale, autumn roosts were higher to the ground above and below the exit point and were in deeper crevices that had more constant temperatures than randomly selected crevices. At the landscape scale, aspect of the hillside was important, with autumn roosts typically facing north–northwest. Autumn roosts fell into 2 categories: those used for a few days (transient roosts) and those used for ≥7 days and presumed to be hibernacula. Temperature regimes in the presumed hibernacula appear to provide optimal conditions for use of winter torpor, whereas transient roosts may offer passive rewarming and energy savings for bats still active in early autumn. Elevational segregation of sexes also was documented in our region, with a preponderance of females found at lower elevations and males at higher elevations in summer. Sex ratios at higher elevations became even in autumn. Use of short elevational migrations and selection of hibernation sites in rock crevices may be a common overwintering strategy of insectivorous bats of western North America.
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