Very little is known about the range and ecology of the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in Alaska and how the species continues to persist in a region where temperatures fall below their predicted threshold for winter survival. Establishing a baseline of current distribution is critical to monitoring potential population shifts. We hypothesized that persistence of the Little Brown Bat in interior and northern Alaska is dependent on the ability of bats to gain sufficient mass over a short summer with limited darkness, and on the availability of human structures for roosting in areas where temperatures are likely too low for roosting in natural structures. To describe the roosting ecology of bats in interior and northern Alaska, we combined traditional ecological knowledge, outreach through citizen science, and sampling using roost studies and telemetry. Activity outside of the roost was positively related to length of time between sunset and sunrise. Fat gained through summer in interior Alaska constituted 21% of body mass in fall prior to dispersal. Radio-tracked bats migrated short distances (<100 km) to areas where human structures were the most likely hibernacula. We conclude that Little Brown Bats use human structures to offset the constraints of cold temperatures and short foraging seasons in interior Alaska.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2