Lord of the Diptera (and Moths and a Spider): Molecular Diet Analyses and Foraging Ecology of Indiana Bats in Illinois

Devon R. O'Rourke, Matthew T. Mangan, Karen E. Mangan, Nicholas A. Bokulich, Matthew D. MacManes, Jeffrey T. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Effective management of endangered or threatened wildlife requires an understanding of how foraging habitats are used by those populations. Molecular diet analysis of fecal samples offers a cost-effective and non-invasive method to investigate how diets of wild populations vary with respect to spatial and temporal factors. For the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), documenting its preferred food sources can provide critical information to promote effective conservation of this federally endangered species. Using cytochrome oxidase I amplicon sequence data from Indiana bat guano samples collected at two roosting areas in Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, we found that dipteran taxa (i.e., flies) associated with riparian habitats were the most frequently detected taxon and represented the majority of the sequence diversity among the arthropods sampled. A select few arthropods from other taxa—especially spiders—are also likely important to Indiana bat diets in this refuge. A supervised learning analysis of diet components suggest only a small fraction of the frequently detected taxa are important contributors to spatial and temporal variation. Overall, these data depict the Indiana bat as a generalist consumer whose diet includes some prey items associated with particular seasonal or spatial components, along with other taxa repeatedly consumed throughout the entire foraging season. These molecular diet analyses suggest that protecting foraging resources specifically associated with the riparian habitat of Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge is essential to promote effective Indiana bat conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number623655
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
StatePublished - Feb 16 2021


  • animal diets
  • bat diet
  • cytochrome oxidase
  • metabarcoding
  • myotis sodalis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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