Although groups of bats may be genetically distinguishable at large spatial scales, the effects of forest disturbances, particularly permanent land use conversions on fine-scale population structure and gene flow of summer aggregations of philopatric bat species are less clear. We genotyped and analyzed variation at 10 nuclear DNA microsatellite markers in 182 individuals of the forest-dwelling northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) at multiple spatial scales, from within first-order watersheds scaling up to larger regional areas in West Virginia and New York. Our results indicate that groups of northern myotis were genetically indistinguishable at any spatial scale we considered, and the collective population maintained high genetic diversity. It is likely that the ability to migrate, exploit small forest patches, and use networks of mating sites located throughout the Appalachian Mountains, Interior Highlands, and elsewhere in the hibernation range have allowed northern myotis to maintain high genetic diversity and gene flow regardless of forest disturbances at local and regional spatial scales. A consequence of maintaining high gene flow might be the potential to minimize genetic founder effects following population declines caused currently by the enzootic White-nose Syndrome.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology