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Northern Myotis - Myotis septentrionalis
Other Names:  Northern Long-eared Myotis, Northern Long-eared Bat, Myotis keenii septentrionalis

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G2G3
State Rank: S2
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
In Montana this species in known to occupy specific habitat within a limited range along the Missouri and Yellowstone river drainages near the North Dakota border. Populations of this species in the eastern US have undergone catastrophic declines due to White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease of bats. Although WNS is not known to be present in Montana, its eventual spread to the state presents a substantial threat to the persistence of this species.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 09/24/2018
    Range Extent

    ScoreA - <100 km squared (less than about 40 square miles)

    CommentRange is likely less than 250 square Kilometers if all habitat on the lower Missouri and Yellowstone drainages are occupied. Current known range is < 100 square Kilometers, but surveys are incomplete.

    Long-term Trend

    ScoreD - Moderate Decline (decline of 25-50%)

    CommentHabitat has likely declined by more than 25% since European settlement. Species is found in riparian forest along major river drainages. Grazing and non-native species have impacted recruitment of cottonwood and other species within the ecosystem. Conversion of forest to agriculture has reduced roosting and foraging habitat.

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreU - Unknown. Short-term trend in population, range, area occupied, and number and condition of occurrences unknown.

    CommentNo data on trends available. Species was known from one observation until 2016.


    ScoreB - Moderate and imminent threat. Threat is moderate to severe and imminent for a significant proportion (20-60%) of the population or area.

    CommentAlthough this species has suffered severe declines due to White-Nose Syndrome in the eastern US and Canada, it remains to be seen if differences in hibernacula used by western populations will change disease transmission dynamics and mitigate the effects of this disease on populations of this species in Montana. If impacts are similar to the east coast, extirpation is possible.

    SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.

    CommentThe extent of WNS impacts to western bat species are currently unknown. If the disease dynamics are similar to the east coast, we may see declines of up to 100% for this species (High). Because many of our bats overwinter outside of caves, disease transmission and effects may differ and moderate population level impacts. Until we can quantify this better, the threat appears to be of Moderate severity, with a major reduction of population and recovery taking up to 100 years.

    ScopeModerate - 20-60% of total population or area affected

    CommentVery few of our bats hibernate in caves and mines so the extent of WNS impacts to the state’s population are difficult to quantify. Given the disease’s impacts on this species in other regions, WNS will likely impact more than 20% of the population.

    ImmediacyModerate - Threat is likely to be operational within 2-5 years.

    CommentBased on the average rate of spread, we should expect to detect WNS or the causal pathogen within 5 years.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreB - Moderately Vulnerable. Species exhibits moderate age of maturity, frequency of reproduction, and/or fecundity such that populations generally tend to recover from decreases in abundance over a period of several years (on the order of 5-20 years or 2-5 generations); or species has moderate dispersal capability such that extirpated populations generally become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).

    CommentSpecies is long lived, and has low fecundity. As these animals can fly, dispersal to and recolonization of extirpated populations is possible.

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist. Specific habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors (see above) are used or required by the Element, but these key requirements are common and within the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.

    CommentSpecies appears to be restricted to riparian forest during the active season and mines or rock outcrops for hibernation

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3.5 + -0.5 (geographic distribution) + 0 (environmental specificity) + 0 (long-term trend) + -0.75 (threats) = 2.25

General Description
Northern Myotis has relatively long ears (14-19 mm) extending < 5mm beyond the nose when pushed forward, a long pointed tragus, forearm length 34-38 mm, hind foot length 8-10 mm and tail length 35-42 mm; the calcar lacks a prominent keel (but a slight keel may be present), and the fringe of the tail is hairless or with only a few sparse hairs. Pelage and membranes are brown and usually the same color. Females are generally larger and heavier than males. Dental formula is I 2/3, C 1/1, P 3/3, M 3/3 (Nagorsen and Brigham 1993, Caceres and Barclay 2000, Adams 2003).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Northern Myotis was formerly considered a subspecies of Keen's Myotis (Myotis keenii). Northern Myotis can be distinguished in the hand from Myotis lucifugus by the longer ears (extending beyond the snout when pushed forward) and tragus and relatively longer tail; pelage color is similar, but less glossy than in Myotis lucifugus. Characteristic frequency of call is slightly higher than for Myotis lucifugus (41-45 kHz vs. 37-43 kHz) and high frequency calls may reach to 120 kHz. Myotis evotis has darker membranes and paler pelage, and the ears are longer; characteristic frequency of calls is lower (33-38 kHz) than for Northern Myotis.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Western Hemisphere Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 83

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

The species may be partially migratory in far eastern Montana between riparian forest and hibernacula in mines or other suitable features.

In Montana, Northern Myotis have been located hibernating in an abandoned mine in riverbreaks habitat in Richland County (Swenson and Shanks 1979). Northern Myotis prefers cooler hibernacula than Myotis lucifugus and selects narrow crevices in which to hibernate. Summer day roosts are often in cavities or crevices behind peeling bark in trees, usually in tall, wide-diameter and partially dead hardwoods (Caceres and Barclay 2000). All active season captures within the state have been in or near riparian forest dominated by cottonwood (Populus spp.) and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) typical of the Great Plains Floodplain Ecological System.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
No food habits information is available from Montana. Range-wide, Northern Myotis feed on a variety of insects, oftentimes gleaning insects from foliage and sometimes from the ground (Caceres and Barclay 2000).

No information available for the Northern Myotis from Montana. During the summer, these bats emerge shortly after sunset to forage. Their activity is bimodal, peaking 1 to 2 hours and 7 to 8 hours after sunset. They are less gregarious than M. lucifugus or other Myotis species. They tend to be solitary or found in smaller clusters than other Myotis species; one of the largest hibernating clusters was of 300 individuals mixed with about 1000 Myotis lucifugus. It also may be overlooked in hibernacula as it tends to occupy deep and narrow crevices. Longevity record is 18.5 years. Predators of Northern Myotis have not been reported (Caceres and Barclay 2000).

Reproductive Characteristics
No information from Montana. Elsewhere within the range, copulation occurs at hibernacula from late July to October (Caceres and Barclay 2000). Parturition in Montana may occur in late June or July; lactating females reported from late July through August in the Black Hills, South Dakota (Clark and Stromberg 1987).

The Northern Long-eared Bat (a.k.a Northern Myotis) was listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act on March 30, 2023, due to population declines resulting from the effects of white-nose syndrome (WNS). More information regarding the federal status of the species and federal regulations applicable to the species can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Long-eared Bat web page or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Environmental Conservation Online System Species Profile.

Protection of bat winter roosting habitat (abandoned mines and caves) with gating should be beneficial to this species. Protection guidelines and management protocols designated for Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Pierson et al. 1999) are also appropriate for Northern Myotis, especially during winter, and can be used as a default protocol. So little is known about Northern Myotis in Montana, including its distribution and relative abundance, that standardized surveys of potential roosts and foraging habitats are desirable as the first step to identifying the spatial and temporal context in which this species is present in the state. This basic information will make it easier to design and implement appropriate and effective conservation guidelines for the protection of important habitats and roosts.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West: natural history, ecology and conservation. University Press of Colorado: Boulder, CO. 289 pp.
    • Caceres, M.C. and R.M.R. Barclay. 2000. Myotis septentrionalis. Mammalian Species. 634:1-4.
    • Clark, S.G. and M.R. Stromberg. 1987. Mammals in Wyoming. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Public Education Series Number 10. xii + 314 pp.
    • Nagorsen, D.W. and R.M. Brigham. 1993. Bats of British Columbia. Volume I. The Mammals of British Columbia. UBC Press, Vancouver. 164 pp.
    • Pierson, E.D., M.C. Wackenhut, J.S. Altenbach, P. Bradley, P. Call, D.L. Genter, C.E. Harris, B.L. Keller, B. Lengus, L. Lewis, and B. Luce. 1999. Species conservation assessment and strategy for Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii townsendii and Corynorhinus townsendii pallescens). Idaho Conservation Effort, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, Idaho. 68 pp.
    • Swenson, J.E. and G.F. Shanks, Jr. 1979. Noteworthy records of bats from northeastern Montana. Journal of Mammalogy. 60(3): 650-652
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2016. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 4(d) Rule for the Northern Long-Eared Bat. Federal Register 81(9): 1900-1922.
    • United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 2015b. Endangered and Threatened wildlife and plants; Threatened Species Status for the Northern Long-Eared Bat with 4(d) Rule; Final Rule and Interim Rule. Federal Register 80:17974-18033.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Vanderwolf, K.J., D. Malloch, and D.F. McAlpine. 2016. Fungi on white-nose infected bats (Myotis spp.) in Eastern Canada show no decline in diversity associated with Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Ascomycota: Pseudeurotiaceae). International Journal of Speleology 45: 43-50.
    • Vanderwolf, K.J., D.F. McAlpine, G.J. Forbes, and D. Malloch. 2012. Bat Populations and Cave Microclimate Prior to and at the Outbreak of White-Nose Syndrome in New Brunswick. Canadian Field-Naturalist 126(2): 125-134.
    • Vonhof, M. J., and R.M.R. Barclay. 1996. Roost-site selection and roosting ecology of forest-dwelling bats in southern British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 74:1797-1805.
    • Weller, T.J. and D.C. Lee. 2007. Mist Net Effort Required to Inventory a Forest Bat Species Assemblage. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(1): 251-257.
    • Whitaker Jr., J.O. and T.J. O'Shea. 2004. Prey selection in a temperate zone insectivorous bat community. Journal of Mammalogy 85(3): 460-469.
    • Whitaker, J., D. Sparks, V. Brack. 2006. Use of Artificial Roost Structures by Bats at the Indianapolis International Airport. Environmental Management 38(1): 28-36.
    • Whitaker, J.O., H.K. Dannelly, and D.A. Prentice. 2004. Chitinase in Insectivorous Bats. Journal of Mammalogy 85(1): 15-18.
    • Willis, C.K. 2015. Conservation Physiology and Conservation Pathogens: White-Nose Syndrome and Integrative Biology for Host–Pathogen Systems. Integrative Comparative Biology 55(4): 631-641
    • Wilson, D. E., F. R. Cole, J. D. Nichols, R. Rudran, and M. S. Foster, (eds.). 1996. Measuring and monitoring biological diversity: standard methods for mammals. Smithsonian Institution, U.S.A. 409 pp.
    • Wolfe, M.L. and A. Kozlowski. 2006. Bat inventories at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, FInal Report. Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit. Utah State University. Logan, UT. 26 pp.
    • Worthington, D.J. 1991. Abundance and distribution of bats in the Pryor Mountains of south central Montana and north eastern Wyoming. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT.
    • Worthington, D.J. and H.N. Ross. 1990. Abundance and distribution of bats in the Pryor Mountains of south central Montana. Unpublished report for the Montana Natural Heritage Program. 20 p.
    • Yates, M.D. and R.M. Muzika. 2006. Effect of Forest Structure and Fragmentation on Site Occupancy of Bat Species in Missouri Ozark Forests. Journal of Wildlife Management 70(5): 1238-1248.
    • Zukal, J., J. Pikula, and H. Bandouchova. 2015. Bats as bioindicators of heavy metal pollution: history and prospect. Mammalian Biology 80(3): 220-227.
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Northern Myotis — Myotis septentrionalis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from