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Article
Variation in Physiological Stress between Bridge- and Cave-Roosting Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats
Conservation Biology (2011)
  • L. C. Allen
  • A. S. Turnmelle
  • E. P. Widmaier
  • N. I. Hristoy
  • Gary F. McCracken, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • T. H. Kunz
Abstract

Since the late 1980s, Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) have increasingly used bridges as roosts in the southern United States. We examined differences in blood cortisol levels, body condition, and parasite load, as measures of physiological stress in bats roosting in bridges and bats roosting in caves. We collected data during three periods, coinciding with female phases of reproduction. For all measures, bats were captured during the nightly emergence from the roost and immediately sampled. Cortisol levels were significantly higher during pregnancy and lactation and in individuals with lower body-condition scores (length of forearm to mass ratio) and significantly higher in bats roosting in caves than in those roosting in bridges. Thus, we concluded that individuals of this species that roost in bridges are not chronically stressed and seem to be unaffected by human activities present at bridges. This is a rare documented instance where a human-dominated environment does not appear to be adversely affecting the physiological health of a free-ranging animal.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01624.x

Keywords
  • artificial roosts,
  • bats,
  • conservation physiology,
  • cortisol,
  • disturbance,
  • stress,
  • cortisol,
  • estrés,
  • fisiología de la conservación,
  • perchas artificiales,
  • perturbación
Publication Date
March, 2011
Citation Information
L. C. Allen, A. S. Turnmelle, E. P. Widmaier, N. I. Hristoy, et al.. "Variation in Physiological Stress between Bridge- and Cave-Roosting Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats" Conservation Biology Vol. 25 Iss. 2 (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gary_mccracken/4/