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Similar hibernation physiology in bats across broad geographic ranges

Abstract

Species with broad geographic ranges may experience varied environmental conditions throughout their range leading to local adaptation. Variation among populations reflects potential adaptability or plasticity, with implications for populations impacted by disease, climate change, and other anthropogenic influences. However, behavior may counteract divergent selection among populations. We studied intraspecific variation in hibernation physiology of Myotis lucifugus (little brown myotis) and Corynorhinus townsendii (Townsend’s big-eared bat), two species of bats with large geographic ranges. We studied M. lucifugus at three hibernacula which spanned a latitudinal gradient of 1500 km, and C. townsendii from 6 hibernacula spread across 1200 km latitude and 1200 km longitude. We found no difference in torpid metabolic rate among populations of either species, nor was there a difference in the effect of ambient temperature among sites. Evaporative water loss was similar among populations of both species, with the exception of one C. townsendii pairwise site difference and one M. lucifugus site that differed from the others. We suggest the general lack of geographic variation is a consequence of behavioral microhabitat selection. As volant animals, bats can travel relatively long distances in search of preferred microclimates for hibernation. Despite dramatic macroclimate differences among populations, hibernating bats are able to find preferred microclimate conditions within their range, resulting in similar selection pressures among populations spread across wide geographic ranges.

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Data availability

Data will be submitted to Dryad Data Repository prior to publication.

Abbreviations

TMR:

Torpid metabolic rate

EWL:

Evaporative water loss

WVP:

Water vapor pressure

\(\dot{\mathrm{V}}{\mathrm{CO}}_{2}\) :

Rate of carbon dioxide production

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Acknowledgements

We appreciate all colleagues on our team that contributed to ongoing discussion of the ideas and related aspects of the research we present here, including Meredith McClure, David Hayman, Reed Hranac, Raina Plowright, Brett Dickson, Emily Johnson, and Emma Kunkel. Field research spanning 9 sites in 8 states/provinces and 2 countries is a daunting challenge, and would not have been possible without assistance provided by a long list of individuals that provided crucial support with logistic coordination, and fieldwork and permitting support. We are grateful to all those that supported our research, including Lindsay Anderson, Dan Bachen, Charlene Barker, David Bishop, Fauve Blanchard, Dave Bobbit, German Botto, Ellen Brandell, Adam Brewerton, Joanna Burgar, Connie Campbell, Muriel Chahine, Dave Critchley, Jurgen Deagle, Kevin Downing, Orville Dyer, Troy Ellsworth, Heather Fenton, Steve Fox, Heather Gates, Danika Gerylo, Purnima Govindarajulu, Imogen Grant-Smith, Konstantin von Gunten, Marie-Helene Hamel, Lauri Hanauska-Brown, Jason Headley, Dave Hobson, Danica Hogan, Greg Horne, Anna Magdalena Hubmann, Sharon Irwin, Tina Jackson, Devin Jones, Kellen Keisling, Allicia Kelly, Mike Kelly, Paul Knaga, Eli Lee, Erin Low, Kelsey Low, Brandon Mackinnon, Bryce Maxell, Ryan McKay, Katie McNab, Dan Neubaum, Cory Olson, Felix Ossig-Bonanno, Lori Parker, Cochise Paulette, Vladimir Paulik, Evan Phillips, Chuck Priestley, Jason Rae, John Roth, Maria-Camila Roy-Avilan, Frank Schlichting, Jenna Schulhof, Helen Schwantje, Todd Shury, Lisa Sims, Geoff Skinner, Erin Tattersal, Dylan Taylor, Nina Veselka, Lisa Wilkinson, Jason Williams, Joanna Wilson, Masako Wright, Ivan Yates, and Vladimir Zumorin.

Funding

This project was funded in part with Federal funds from the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, under Contract Number W912HQ-16-C-0015. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States government. Additional funding was provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (CFDA program 15.657 grant F17AP00593), Texas Tech University, and the Alberta Conservation Association.

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Authors

Contributions

LPM, SHO, and CLL conceived the study. LPM, SHO, CLL, and CKRW secured the funding. NWF, CGH, KAS, and YAD collected the data. LPM analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. All the authors contributed editorial comments on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Liam P. McGuire.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest or competing interests.

Ethical approval

All the procedures conducted in the United States were approved by the Texas Tech University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol 16031-05). All the procedures conducted in Canada conformed to the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care and were permitted by Alberta Environment and Parks (17-214 and 18-016), British Columbia Ministry of Forest Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MRCB15-163558), Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources (WL500648), Government of Northwest Territories Wildlife Care Committee (NWTWCC 2018-015), and Parks Canada (WB2018-020 and WB-2018-28777). Permits for fieldwork in the United States were obtained from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (2016-104, 2017-018, and 2018-008), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (16TR2172, 17TR2172, 18TR2172, and 19TR2172), Nevada Department of Wildlife (497636), Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (2COLL10094), and National Park Service (ORCA-2018-SCI-0001).

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Communicated by K.H. Dausmann.

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McGuire, L.P., Fuller, N.W., Dzal, Y.A. et al. Similar hibernation physiology in bats across broad geographic ranges. J Comp Physiol B 192, 171–181 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00360-021-01400-x

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Keywords

  • Hibernation
  • Torpid metabolic rate
  • Evaporative water loss
  • Local adaptation
  • Myotis lucifugus
  • Corynorhinus townsendii