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Indiana State Bat Researcher Gives Update On Status Of Bats In Midwest

image of bat

(WFIU/WTIU News)

Various bats species in Indiana are classified as endangered or of special concern because of human disturbance and the fungal disease, white-nose syndrome.

Joy O’Keefe is the Director for the Center for Bat research at Indiana State University. She studies bat migration patterns in Indiana and the Midwest.

She says the northern long-eared bat used to be one of the most commonly found bats.

“But now we actually don’t even see them anymore,” she says.

However, the Indiana Bat, which is federally endangered, is doing better. O’Keefe says this might be because of how the species responds to white-nose-syndrome while hibernating in caves. 

She also keeps tabs on the Little Brown Bat, which has become so rare that it is no longer included in one of her bat migratory studies.

The Eastern Red Bat, which migrates south for the winter, is doing better, she says.

O’Keefe says bats in the Midwest have not yet been affected by climate change, though it is an increasing concern for experts.

O'Keefe says bats can demonstrate forest integrity because different species roost in different types of trees, so if there are mutiple species of bats, it means the forest ecosystem is diverse.

 

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