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ESR 54:141-153 (2024)  -  DOI:

Widespread occupancy of the endangered northern myotis on northeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain islands

Samantha Hoff1,2,*, Brittany A. Mosher3, Mandy Watson2, Luanne Johnson4, Elizabeth Olson4, Danielle O’Dell5, Casey J. Pendergast1,2, Daniel A. Bogan6, Carl J. Herzog2, Wendy C. Turner7

1Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222, USA
2New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12223, USA
3Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 81 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
4BiodiversityWorks, 455 State Road PMB#179, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, USA
5Nantucket Conservation Foundation, 118 Cliff Road, Nantucket, MA 02554, USA
6Department of Environmental Studies and Science, Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211, USA
7US Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Northern myotis Myotis septentrionalis are one of the bat species most affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS), and disease-induced declines may cause compounding effects when combined with other threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation. Recent evidence suggests that peripheral populations are persisting in post-WNS years; however, the environmental factors that influence the occurrence of this species along the Atlantic Coastal Plain are virtually unknown. We conducted a large-scale acoustic survey on 3 islands: Long Island, New York, and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, and used a multi-scale occupancy modeling approach to determine the landscape and abiotic factors affecting the distribution of northern myotis. Our estimates of occupancy and detection probability suggest widespread presence across the islands. At the local (200 m) scale, we identified strong negative effects of development on Long Island and Nantucket and a strong positive effect of forest habitat on Martha’s Vineyard. None of the variables we measured sufficiently explained the landscape (1 km2) occupancy of this species, which was very high (ψ = 0.81-0.97), representing an outlier for this species in the post-WNS landscape. The lack of association at the landscape scale suggests that general differences in land cover are not a driving factor of higher occupancy of peripheral northern myotis populations, while local site-specific conditions may be supporting critical foraging or roosting habitat. Because islands are particularly vulnerable to human-driven habitat alteration due to the constraint of limited space, and development pressure is expected to increase, this study provides a baseline to enable managers to assess the effects of future environmental disturbances and monitor population trends to support long-term survival of northern myotis.

KEY WORDS: Northern myotis · Coastal distribution · Peripheral populations · White-nose syndrome · Multi-scale occupancy modeling

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Cite this article as: Hoff S, Mosher BA, Watson M, Johnson L and others (2024) Widespread occupancy of the endangered northern myotis on northeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain islands. Endang Species Res 54:141-153.

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