IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Biology

The Indiana bat is a migratory species that hibernates colonially during the winter. In late summer or early autumn they gather at their hibernating sites, or hibernacula, where they mate. The bats then cluster tightly together in groups of up to 5,000, hanging from the ceiling of the cave or mine, and enter hibernation (2). Whilst they mate in autumn, females do not fall pregnant until after they emerge from the caves in spring. This is achieved by the female storing the male's sperm over winter and then ovulating in spring, allowing fertilization to occur (2) (3). After hibernation, the females are the first to migrate to wooded areas, whilst males and non-reproductive females may migrate later on, or remain near the hibernaculum (3). Migration to the summer habitat can involve travelling great distances of up to 575 kilometres. Groups of around 100 females gather together in the summer habitat, forming maternity colonies (3). Here, each female gives birth to only one young, which are able to fly within one month after birth, but stay with the maternity colony throughout their first summer (3) (4). The Indiana bat is insectivorous, meaning it feeds only on insects. They can consume up to half their body weight in insects each night, and thus their role in controlling insect populations is a significant one (3). Bats also play an essential role in cave ecosystems by bringing in nutrients in the form of guano upon which many forms of life depend (6).

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Source: ARKive

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