Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus - Handley, 1955
Virginia Big-eared Bat
Synonym(s): Plecotus townsendii virginianus
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plecotus townsendii virginianus (Handley, 1955) (TSN 195668)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100716
Element Code: AMACC08012
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Bats
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Chiroptera Vespertilionidae Corynorhinus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 750 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B99WIL01NACA
Name Used in Concept Reference: Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly included in the genus Plecotus (see taxonomic comments for C. townsendii).
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4T2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 29Feb1996
Global Status Last Changed: 29Feb1996
Rounded Global Status: T2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in several states in the Appalachian Mountains region; total population exceeds 10,000, has increased in recent years; occurs only in about 15 caves, of which about 5 contain the bulk of the population; vulnerable to disturbance by humans.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (05Sep1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Kentucky (S1), North Carolina (S1), Virginia (S1), West Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (30Nov1979)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and eastern Kentucky. Presently occurs in decreased numbers throughout much of the historic range. Largest colonies are in several caves in Pendleton County, West Virginia; some caves serve as both hibernation and maternity sites, others are primarily maternity caves Colonies occur also in Lee County and surrounding counties, Kentucky (the best known site being Stillhouse Cave); in Bath, Highland, Rockingham, Bland, and Tazewell counties, Virginia (Dalton 1987); and in Avery and Watauga counties, North Carolina (including Black Rock Cliffs Cave) See Matthews and Moseley (1990) and Handley (1991).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Known from about 15 caves in 4 states (Kentucky-1, Virginia-2, West Virginia-11, North Carolina-1). Other colonies have either declined or disappeared.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total known population was 3,866 bats (ll colonies) in 1984 (Bagley and Jacobs 1985), about 10,000 in the late 1980s (Dalton 1987). In 1987, the total West Virginia population was 8000, based on a count of about 3500 females, up almost one-third since 1983 (Matthews and Moseley 1990). A 1991 count of the 9 summer colonies in West Virginia yielded 4455 individuals, a 15 percent increase from the 1990 count and a 20 percent increase from 1984 (End. Sp. Tech. Bull., Sept./Dec. 1991); the count was basically unchanged in early 1992, but in May 1992 the largest known maternity colony (1300 individuals) of this subspecies was discovered (1992 End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 17(12):18). The largest known concentration of this species is in Hellhole Cave, West Virginia; the count for the 1994-1995 season was 6378 individuals (End. Sp. Bull. 20(4):21). As of the mid-1990s, West Virginia/North Carolina population was more than 13,000 (1994 End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 19(5):14). In Kentucky, the hibernating population in Stillhouse Cave increased from 1700 in 1982 to 2600 in 1987 (Matthews and Moseley 1990). Virginia population in the 1980s was about 2000 and stable (Dalton 1987, Handley 1991). Total population in 1997 probably was less than 20,000 (Pupek 1997).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The growing popularity of spelunking is a tremendous threat to these bats. Very intolerant of disturbance in summer and winter. Former decline probably is attributable to human intrusion into caves, which depletes energy reserves of aroused bats and may lead to cave abandonment if disturbance is frequent. Forest defoliation by gypsy moth could adversely affect native Lepidoptera and impact bat population (Sample and Whitmore 1993). In some areas, feral cats prey on the bats.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Through the late 1980s, the population of reproducing females increased by nearly 30% since surveys were initiated in 1983 (Matthews and Moseley 1990). USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "improving," with the population "stable overall." West Virginia/North Carolina population increased by an order of magnitude between 1979 and 1994 (1994 End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 19(5):14). Populations in some West Virginia caves grew as much as 350 percent from 1983 to 1995 (Pupek 1997).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Match maternity and hibernation colonies of all populations. Look for other populations in Virginia and North Carolina.

Protection Needs: All existing maternity and hibernation caves should be targeted for some protection, especially the four with large populations.

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)) Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and eastern Kentucky. Presently occurs in decreased numbers throughout much of the historic range. Largest colonies are in several caves in Pendleton County, West Virginia; some caves serve as both hibernation and maternity sites, others are primarily maternity caves Colonies occur also in Lee County and surrounding counties, Kentucky (the best known site being Stillhouse Cave); in Bath, Highland, Rockingham, Bland, and Tazewell counties, Virginia (Dalton 1987); and in Avery and Watauga counties, North Carolina (including Black Rock Cliffs Cave) See Matthews and Moseley (1990) and Handley (1991).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States KY, NC, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
KY Bath (21011), Estill (21065), Jackson (21109), Lee (21129), Menifee (21165), Morgan (21175), Powell (21197), Rockcastle (21203), Rowan (21205), Wolfe (21237)
NC Avery (37011), Caldwell (37027), Watauga (37189)
VA Bath (51017), Bland (51021), Highland (51091), Rockingham (51165), Scott (51169), Shenandoah (51171)*, Tazewell (51185)
WV Fayette (54019), Grant (54023), Hardy (54031), Pendleton (54071), Preston (54077)*, Randolph (54083), Tucker (54093)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 South Branch Potomac (02070001)+, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, North Fork Shenandoah (02070006)+, Upper James (02080201)+
03 Upper Catawba (03050101)+
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+, Cheat (05020004)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+*, Middle New (05050002)+, Lower New (05050004)+, Licking (05100101)+, Upper Kentucky (05100204)+, Rockcastle (05130102)+
06 Watauga (06010103)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+, Upper Clinch (06010205)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Help
Basic Description: A bat with large ears.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from subspecies INGENS in being more sooty dorsally and averaging slightly smaller in all dimensions; also, the first upper incisor rarely has a trace of a secondary cusp, and the rostrum is less heavy and inflated (Handley 1959).
Reproduction Comments: Mating begins in late summer/early autumn, continues into winter. Ovulation and fertilization are delayed until late winter/early spring. Maternity colonies form as early as late winter (March) or as late as late spring (June), apparently depending on when the roost site reaches a suitably warm temperature. Gestation lasts 2-3.5 months. Litter of one is born in late spring/early summer. Young can fly at about 2.5-3 weeks, weaned by 6-8 weeks, leave cave to forage by the end of July or early August. Most individuals leave the nursery cave by mid- to late September. Females are sexually mature their first summer. Males may not be sexually active until their second year. Nearly all adult females breed every year. Females form nursery colonies; males roost separately ( solitary or in large bachelor groups) during this time.
Ecology Comments: Hibernates singly, or in small clusters; sometimes in large tight clusters of hundreds (Caire et al. 1989, Schmidly 1991, Handley 1991).

Pre-weaning post-natal mortality generally is low. Adult survivorship is relatively high.

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Fairly sedentary; not known to migrate more than about 64 km between hibernation and maternity caves (Matthews and Moseley 1990).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cliff, Forest - Hardwood, Old field
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subterrestrial
Habitat Comments: Caves typically in limestone karst regions dominated by mature hardwood forests of hickory, beech, maple, and hemlock (Matthews and Moseley 1990). Prefers cool, well-ventilated caves for hibernation (Matthews and Moseley 1990); roost sites are often near cave entrances or in places where there is considerable air movement (Handley 1991). Males and females hibernate together. In summer, males occur singly or in groups in caves (Handley 1991). In eastern Kentucky, feeding roosts were in cliffs adjecent to two maternity roosts and one bachelor roost (Burford and Lacki 1998). Individuals may move from one roost to another at any season.

Maternity colonies settle deep within caves, far from entrance (Matthews and Moseley 1990); these caves are warmer than those used for hibernation. In Kentucky, used limestone caves, except in one instance in which a sandstone rock shelter was used (Lacki et al. 1994).

In Kentucky, often detected in old fields and above cliffs (Burford and Lacki 1995).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds principally on moths. Forages over fields and woods, with individuals routinely traveling 3-5 miles from roost cave to foraging area (End. Sp. Tech. Bull., Sept./Dec. 1991). In eastern West Virginia, Lepidoptera was the most important insect order in the diet, followed by Coleoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera; compared to availability, selectively consumed Lepidotera and avoided Coleoptera; forest insect comprised a substantial part of the diet (Sample and Whitmore 1993).
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Activity usually begins well into the night, late relative to other bats. After an initial feeding period, roosts and rests during the night, presumably before a later feeding bout. Commonly arouses in winter, changing position within a hibernaculum or moving to a nearby cave or mine.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08Feb2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Wilcove, D., S. Roble, and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Dec1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Bagley, F. M. 1984. Recovery plan for the Ozark big-eared bat and the Virginia big-eared bat. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 119 pp.

  • Bagley, R. and J. Jacobs. 1985. Census techniques for endangered big-eared bats proving successful. Endangered Species Tech. Bull. 10(3):5-7.

  • Burford, L. S., and M. J. Lacki. 1995. Habitat use by Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus in the Daniel Boone National Forest. American Midland Naturalist 134:340-345.

  • Burford, L. S., and M. J. Lacki. 1998. Moths consumed by Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus in eastern Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist 139:141-146.

  • Caire, W., J. D. Tyler, B. P. Glass, and M. A. Mares. 1989. Mammals of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. Oklahoma. 567 pp.

  • Clark, Mary K. and David S. Lee. 1987. Big-eared bat, PLECO TUS TOWNSENDII, in western North Carolina. Brimleyana. No. 1 3:137-140.

  • Dalton, V.M. 1987. Distribution, abundance, and status of bats hibernating in caves in Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 38(4): 369-379.

  • Hall, E. R. 1981a. The Mammals of North America, second edition. Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.

  • Handley, C. O., Jr. 1959. A revision of American bats of the genera Euderma and Plecotus. Proceedings U.S. National Museum 110:95-246.

  • Handley, C. O., Jr. 1991. Mammals. Pages 539-616 in K. Terwilliger, coordinator. Virginia's endangered species: proceedings of a symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

  • Lacki, M. J., M. D. Adam, and L. G. Shoemaker. 1994. Observations on seasonal cycle, population patterns and roost selection in summer colonies of Plecotus townsendii virginianus in Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist 131:34-42.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Pupek, D. 1997. Big-eared bat bounces back. Endangered Species Bulletin 22(3):12-13.

  • Sample, B. E., and R. C. Whitmore. 1993. Food habits of the endangered Virginia big-eared bat in West Virginia. J. Mammalogy 74:428-435.

  • Schmidly, D. J. 1991. The bats of Texas. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, Texas. 188 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

  • White, D. H., and J. T. Seginak. 1987. Cave gate designs for use in protecting endangered bats. Wildlife Society Bull. 15:445-449.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 750 pp.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of November 2016.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2017 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.