Date of Thesis



The widespread mortality of hibernating bats is associated with the emerging infectious disease white-nose syndrome (WNS), and has provoked a strong interest in understanding which bats will survive, and why? The ability of infected bats to resist WNS may depend upon variation in the expression of different characteristics. In a captive colony of big brown bats, I sought to characterize the phenotypic variability, repeatability, and survivability for several key ¿survival¿ traits, including: torpor patterns, microclimate preferences, and wound healing capacity. Torpor patterns were profiled using temperature sensitive dataloggers throughout the hibernation season, while microclimate preferences were quantified by using temperature-graded boxes and thermal imaging. In order to assess wound healing capacity, small wing biopsies were obtained from each bat and healing progress was tracked for one month. Individuals exhibited a wide range of phenotypes that were significantly influenced by sex and body condition. Repeatability estimates suggest that there is not a strong genetic basis for the observed variation in torpor patterns or microclimate preferences. Certain phenotypes (e.g., BMI) were associated with an increased probability of overwinter survivorship, which suggests a basis for intra-species differences in WNS susceptibility. The results from this project provide novel insight into what we know about ¿who will survive,¿ and will influence the direction and implementation of future conservation and mitigation strategies.


White-Nose Syndrome, Bats, Hibernation, Torpor, Wound Healing, Microclimate Preferences

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science



First Advisor

DeeAnn Reeder