Bats in the genus Corynorhinus possess a suite of morphological characters that permit them to effectively use both gleaning and aerial-hawking foraging strategies to capture Lepidoptera. Consequently, they occupy a specialized feeding niche within North American bat assemblages and are of particular interest for dietary studies. We collected fecal pellets from a colony of C. rafinesquii (Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat) at Mammoth Cave National Park during August–October 2011 and amplified cytochrome-c oxidase subunit 1 fragments of prey from these pellets. We used the Barcode of Life Database to identify prey, and evaluated the size of prey species based on published values. The mean wingspan of prey we recorded from our samples was smaller than average values reported for Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat using traditional methods (P ≤ 0.01), suggesting that surveys of culled insect parts beneath roosting sites may lead to biased estimates of the size and breadth of prey species eaten by gleaning bats. Mean wingspan of lepidopteran prey consumed by Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat in our study was larger (P ≤ 0.01) than values reported for the Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-Eared Bat ), which is a smaller, sympatric gleaner in eastern North America. Further, comparisons of our diet data with abundance of prey suggest macrolepidopteran taxa are consistently consumed by Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat to greater degree than microlepidotera. Our findings suggest that North American Corynorhinus consume a wider range of sizes and species of Lepidoptera than previously reported in studies based solely on identification of culled prey-wings beneath feeding roosts.
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Vol. 14 • No. 4