Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Jerry R. Choate
The 15 species of bats known to occur in Kansas are described in terms of distribution, natural history, conservation status, and biogeography. Bats are poorly represented in the fossil record, and this is especially evident in Kansas, where only four fossil species are known. Therefore, biogeographic analysis is limited to historical records. Of the 15 bat species, nine appear to have undergone noteworthy increases in distribution or conservation status since the period immediately following the settlement of Kansas. These include the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), gray myotis (Myotis grisescens), northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), cave myotis (Myotis velifer), evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis), eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus), and Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida braziliensis). For the big brown bat, gray myotis, evening bat, and eastern pipistrelle, these changes in Kansas reflect increases in the overall range of the species. For the remainder (red bat, hoary bat, northern myotis, cave myotis, and Brazilian free-tailed bat), these changes pertain primarily to the parturative range, a term equivalent to the nesting range of birds. Four other species suffered decreases in either conservation status or distribution after non-Native Americans arrived. The pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) is severely reduced in numbers (having possibly been extirpated and since recolonized). The western small-footed bat (Myotis ciliolabrum), may be slightly less abundant in Kansas than it once was. Information about Towndsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus towndsendii) is limited, but that species likely has declined in number, but not distribution since settlement. Three species appear to have undergone no noticeable changes in distribution. The silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) continues to be a common species during its migration. The big free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops macrotis) was never common, and the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) continues to be a peripheral species in Kansas. Five species of bats have not been documented in Kansas, but eventually may be found here. Two of these, the Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis) and the Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis), may have occurred in Kansas in the past but were extirpated by human activities. Three others, Rafenesque's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafenesqueii), the eastern small-footed myotis (Myotis leibii), and the fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes) probably never occurred in Kansas.
Copyright 1996 Dale Wayne Sparks
Sparks, Dale Wayne, "Distribution, Natural History, Conservation Status, and Biogeography of Bats in Kansas" (1996). Master's Theses. 2601.