Return to Conservation Biology Research on Mammals

Nordquist, G.E. and E.C. Birney. 1985. Distribution and status of bats in Minnesota. Final report submitted to the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 64 pp.+


The past two decades have witnessed a rise in the number of studies on bats and there is a clear need for additional research. Locally, very little work has been directed toward bats. The inherent difficulties of locating and capturing secretive, volant, and widely-dispersed organisms almost certainly has limited the number and scope of research projects on bats in this area. Minnesota, characterized by insect-infested summers and cold, prolonged winters, presents a special challenge to those bats that exploit its resources. Typical of most temperate-region bats, all species in Minnesota feed on flying insects. The seasonal abundance of this food source potentially could sustain a large bat population within the state. However, the harsh winters and limited number of suitable refuge sites place severe constraints on bat population densities and survival rates. Several species are unable to overwinter in the state and are forced to make costly annual migrations. Those species that find suitable winter refuge tread a fine line between survival and starvation. The factors that exclude bats from Minnesota or limit their distribution and abundance need to be explored more fully, as do the behavioral and physiological responses of bats to such constraints. Through studies of Minnesota's bat fauna significant contributions can be made to both regional information and general knowledge of chiropteran biology.

The paucity of investigation on bats in Minnesota points to the unfortunate fact that we lack simple baseline information with which scientists and managers of nongame wildlife can assess the status of bat species in the state, detect any changes in distribution or abundance, and formulate management policy to ensure their continued representation in the state. The motivation behind the present study on the distribution and status of bats in Minnesota was this lack of information and the need to update and augment our existing knowledge on the state's bat fauna.

Back to top