Eastern Red Bat - Lasiurus borealis
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Recent surveys using acoustic detectors have shown this species to be present across much of central and eastern Montana during the summer and fall. Tree roosting bat species, including the Eastern Red Bat, are commonly killed at wind farms, which presents a substantial threat to the long-term viability of populations within the state.
- Details on Status Ranking and Review
Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) Conservation Status Review
Review Date = 05/03/2018
ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Comment223,758 square Kilometers from Natural Heritage Program range maps
ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)
CommentHabitat is likely stable within +/- 25% since European settlement. Although deciduous forests have declined since European settlement due to grazing and invasive species, it is unlikely that the habitat for this species has been reduced by more then 25% within the state given that pine forest is also used.
ScoreU - Unknown. Short-term trend in population, range, area occupied, and number and condition of occurrences unknown.
CommentNo data on trends available.
ScoreB - Moderate and imminent threat. Threat is moderate to severe and imminent for a significant proportion (20-60%) of the population or area.
CommentThis species has been shown to be among those commonly killed at wind energy facilities in other areas. There are no documented mortalities of this species at wind energy facilities in Montana, but data on bat mortalities at these facilities are limited. The population effects of mortalities has not been established, but there is the potential for severe declines given the species relatively low fecundity.
SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.
CommentIf complete mitigation of mortalities were implemented today, the species would likely recover relatively quickly (Low), however development and implementation of effective mitigation strategies may not occur for a number of years (if at all), so recovery will likely take much longer (Moderate)
ScopeModerate - 20-60% of total population or area affected
CommentAlthough wind energy facilities are not currently present within much of the state-wide range for this species, they are placed in areas that concentrate individuals during migration and the impacted area is increasing as more facilities are built. Turbines also appear to attract individuals, increasing the effective footprint of these facilities and their impacts to tree roosting bat species.
ImmediacyHigh - Threat is operational (happening now) or imminent (within a year).
CommentThreat is ongoing and increasing
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 can have 1-2 pups each year, although individuals may not breed each year. Juvenile mortality may be moderate to high. Species has good dispersal capabilities and reestablishment of extirpated populations through dispersal is possible.
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 is dependent on major riparian areas with cottonwoods or other deciduous trees for roosting.
Raw Conservation Status Score
3.5 + 0 (geographic distribution) + 0 (environmental specificity) + 0 (long-term trend) + -0.75 (threats) = 2.75
The Eastern Red Bat is a moderately-sized lasurine (7 to 15 g) with long pointed wings and heavily-furred interfemoral membrane. Pelage overall is reddish, lighter on the belly than the back. Ears are low and rounded, tragus triangular, forearm length about 39 to 41 mm. It has large teeth; the dental formula is I 1/3, C 1/1, P 2/2, M 3/3 (Shump and Shump 1982a, Adams 2003).
Eastern Red Bat has a distinctive pelage: upper parts are brick-red to rusty-red washed with white, under parts are slightly paler. Only one other bat species in Montana, Hoary Bat, has an interfemoral membrane completely furred on the dorsal surface. The Hoary Bat is much larger (2.0-2.5 X in body wieght, 17-20% longer in total length) than the Eastern Red Bat, and its dorsal pelage is mixed grayish and brownish, tinged with while, giving it a frosty or hoary appearance, not uniformly reddish (Shump and Shump 1982a). Definitive Eastern Red Bat calls are also of higher characteristic frequency: 38-50 kHz lasting > 10 milliseconds for Eastern Red versus < 23 kHz lasting up to 20 milliseconds for Hoary.
Western Hemisphere Range
Current distribution for eastern red bats extends in a line from southwestern Texas through northeastern British Columbia, primarily following the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. From Montana to Colorado, 20.2% of records for eastern red bats are from the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains (Solick et al. 2020).
The northernmost range of eastern red bats appears to be the boundary between the Taiga and Northern Forests ecoregions in Canada. Most records for eastern red bats in western North America are from the Great Plains ecoregion, a third of which were captured or collected within 8 km of major rivers and streams (Solick et al. 2020).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
The Eastern Red Bat is migratory; all verified records in Montana (n = 11) are from the autumn migration period (between 2 August and 5 September); as of 2011 all individuals identified to sex (n = 3) were female.
The Eastern Red Bat migrates through eastern Montana, particularly along wooded and riparian areas. In other parts of its range, it is reported to prefer elm, box elder, wild plum, willow, hawthorn, sumac, and a variety of other woody plants for roosting, and hibernates in woodpecker holes, tree foliage, and under loose bark (Shump and Shump 1982a, Jones et al. 1983, van Zyll de Jong 1985).
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:
- 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);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- 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: mtnhp.org/requests
) 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.
- 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.
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- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Wetland and Riparian Systems
No diet information is available from Montana. Elsewhere it is reported that Eastern Red Bat feeds on flying insects in wooded areas, often on moths (Lepidoptera) but also the Orders Homoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera; they also feed on ground-dwelling crickets, flies, bugs, beetles, cicadas and grain moths (Shump and Shump 1982a). East of Montana they are reported to hunt around city street lights or barn flood lights.
No information from Montana. Elsewhere, these bats tend to be solitary, roosting singly or in female-litter groups, usually in foliage or tree cavities (1 to 6 m above ground but also at ground level) near habitat edges or water. Tends not to associate with other bat species, including foliage-roosting species, except during foraging or drinking. They often begin to forage within two hours after sunset, with some feeding throughout the night. During winter they arouse from hibernation on warm days to feed. Several species of mammals and raptorial birds are documented predators of Eastern Red Bat. In the east, Blue Jays are significant predators of young (Shump and Shump 1982a, Adams 2003).
Little information available from Montana; two females caught on 9 and 11 August were nulliparous. Mating probably occurs during autumn migration and within the winter range, during August and September, but implantation delayed until spring. Gestation period is 80-90 days, young are born in late June and July, lactating females reported in southern Michigan in early August. Litter size ranges from 1-5, but averages about 3 (Shump and Shump 1982a).
No management measures have been enacted specifically for the protection of Eastern Red Bat in Montana, in part because we have too few data; more surveys are necessary to define habitat needs, dates of occurrence and migration, and population status. In Michigan, numbers captured in paired netting surveys have declined 52-85% over 1-26 years, which corresponds to a 10-fold reduction in numbers tested for rabies during 38 years (Winhold at el. 2008). Population declines, if real, could be related to forest fragmentation, pesticides and environmental pollutants, controlled burning of leaf litter, and collisions with various man-made objects, all of which could expose the species to hazards throughout the year. This species is also vulnerable to collision with wind turbines, and large numbers are killed at wind farms (Hendricks et al 2003, Arnett et al. 2008). Increasing rotor start-up wind speed or changing the pitch angle of blades and lowering the required generator speed for electricity production had the same effect in reducing bat fatalities at an Alberta wind farm by 57-60% (Baerwald et al. 2009), and may be promising mitigation techniques at wind energy facilities.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
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- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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