White-nose syndrome (WNS) has rendered four of Ontario’s species endangered, while leaving the other four species relatively unaffected. The causes and extent of the declines have been widely studied. The influence on remaining bat species has not. Comparing acoustic data recorded 10 years apart, we evaluated how species in southeastern Ontario, Canada, use different foraging habitats pre- and post-WNS detection. We observed activity declines in now-endangered species over open fields (small-footed myotis, Myotis leibii (Audubon and Bachman, 1842); little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus (Le Conte, 1831); northern myotis, Myotis septentrionalis (Trouessart, 1897); tricolored bat, Perimyotis subflavus (F. Cuvier, 1832)) and speculate that the reduction of the once most common species (M. lucifugus) may have resulted in other species searching for prey in habitat once dominated by M. lucifugus. That is, these changes may have allowed greater presence in open field and clutter or edge environments by the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus (Palisot de Beauvois, 1796)) and three migratory species (silver-haired bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans (Le Conte, 1831); red bat, Lasiurus borealis (Müller, 1776); hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus (Palisot de Beauvois, 1796)). However, our results also suggest that (i) while the decline of most resident bat species due to WNS may have relaxed competition for relatively unaffected species in some, but not all habitats, that (ii) sensory and biomechanical constraints may limit prey exploitation by these less-affected bat species in these habitats.
We collected acoustic data at and around the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) near Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario (44°34=N, 79°15=W), during the summers (early June to late September) of 2007, 2008, and 2017.