What is winter? Modeling spatial variation in bat host traits and hibernation and their implications for overwintering energetics

C. Reed Hranac, Catherine G. Haase, Nathan W. Fuller, Meredith L. McClure, Jonathan C. Marshall, Cori L. Lausen, Liam P. McGuire, Sarah H. Olson, David T.S. Hayman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


White-nose syndrome (WNS) has decimated hibernating bat populations across eastern and central North America for over a decade. Disease severity is driven by the interaction between bat characteristics, the cold-loving fungal agent, and the hibernation environment. While we further improve hibernation energetics models, we have yet to examine how spatial heterogeneity in host traits is linked to survival in this disease system. Here, we develop predictive spatial models of body mass for the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) and reassess previous definitions of the duration of hibernation of this species. Using data from published literature, public databases, local experts, and our own fieldwork, we fit a series of generalized linear models with hypothesized abiotic drivers to create distribution-wide predictions of prehibernation body fat and hibernation duration. Our results provide improved estimations of hibernation duration and identify a scaling relationship between body mass and body fat; this relationship allows for the first continuous estimates of prehibernation body mass and fat across the species' distribution. We used these results to inform a hibernation energetic model to create spatially varying fat use estimates for M. lucifugus. These results predict WNS mortality of M. lucifugus populations in western North America may be comparable to the substantial die-off observed in eastern and central populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11604-11614
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Myotis lucifugus
  • Pseudogymnoascus destructans
  • hibernation energetics
  • white-nose syndrome
  • winter duration


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