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Roost selection by the solitary, foliage-roosting hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) during lactation

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Abstract:

Nests, roosts, and dens are an important facet of life for many animals and often provide refuge from weather and predators. Reproduction, particularly lactation, is energetically expensive. Many small mammals form maternity colonies in sheltered locations, which provides protection for offspring and mitigates the cost of staying warm. However, lasiurine bats give birth in roosts that superficially appear to offer relatively little thermal buffer. Given the consequences of a cold environment on offspring growth and the high energetic demand of thermoregulating and lactating concurrently, choosing roosts with certain microclimatic properties would be beneficial. We investigated the influence of microclimate on roost selection by lactating hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus (Beauvois, 1796)), a solitary foliage-roosting species. We found that roosts chosen by bats offered shelter from the wind and exposure to sunlight, and consistently had an opening that faced south. We suggest that lactating L. cinereus choose roosts based largely on a microclimate that reduces convective cooling and increases radiant heating, thereby mitigating the cost of thermoregulation and promoting rapid growth of offspring.

Keywords: Lasiurus cinereus; allaitement; chauve-souris cendrée; hoary bat; lactation; microclimat; microclimate; roost selection; roosting ecology; sélection des perchoirs; écologie du perchage

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z11-139

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive Northwest, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. 2: Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive Northwest, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada.

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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