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Lasiurus intermedius H. Allen, 1862Northern Yellow Bat
Federal Protection: No US federal protection
State Protection: No Georgia state protection
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3
SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes
Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 12
Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Wooded areas near open water or fields; large trees, live oaks preferred
The northern yellow bat is a large bat with dull yellow to yellow-brown fur that often has a faint wash of brown or gray on the tips. It has pinkish ears that are more pointed than other Lasiurus species.. The anterior half of the uropatagium (tail membrane) is furred. The northern yellow bat has a body length (excluding tail) of 60 – 89 mm (2.4 – 3.5 in), tail (base to tip of tail) of 47 – 64 mm (1.9 – 2.5 in), hind foot (ankle to tip of claw) 8 – 13 mm (0.3 – 0.5 in), ear of 15 – 19 mm (0.6 – 0.7 in), mass of 17 – 28 g (0.6 – 0.99 oz), and forearm length (outer edge of elbow to wrist) of 45 - 63 mm (1.8 – 2.5 in). The average total length is 118 – 129 mm (4.6 – 5.1 in), with the females larger than males.
The northern yellow bat can be confused with the southern yellow bat (Lasiurus ega) as their ranges overlap in Texas. The southern yellow bat is medium sized with darker wing membranes. The northern yellow bat is bigger and can be differentiated by size.
The northern yellow bat is a tree roosting species and can be found roosting in Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) clumps hanging from large mature hardwood trees and occasionally in dead fronds of cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto) and live oak (Quercus virginiana). They benefit from mature hardwood stands and will utilize large pine trees or hardwoods, usually live oaks, for roosting. Coleman et al. (2012) and reported that individuals selected trees with a larger diameter, making large hardwood trees important roosting habitat. Castleberry et al. (2020) also found that bats selected roost trees with larger diameters than surrounding trees and selected roost locations with greater open flight space (i.e., low midstory clutter) underneath.
Northern Yellow Bats eat leafhoppers, damselflies, small flies, predaceous diving beetles, other beetles, and flying ants. They feed on flying insects 15-30 ft (5-9m) above the ground in open areas such as fields, pastures, golf courses, marshes, and along lake and forest edges. In late summer, groups of 100 individuals or more may congregate to feed.
This species is a foliage rooster, meaning that they hang under leaves and branches. Specifically, the northern yellow bat specializes in roosting in clumps of Spanish moss. They are solitary roosters, or they will roost in small groups. Northern yellow bats are not known to be migratory, however low capture rates of females suggest more investigation into seasonal migration is required. The species will exhibit shallow torpor in the winter, and individuals will emerge to feed on warm evenings.
Northern yellow bats, like red bats (Lasiurus borealis), copulate in flight. Females store sperm in their reproductive tracts until they ovulate in early spring. Usually 2-4 young are born during May-June. Young are left at the roost when the mother feeds at night. However, if disturbed during the day, the mother will take her young. There are no longevity records for this species. A complete understanding of their mating, copulation and potential migration is needed.
Mist nets over fresh water are used to capture northern yellow bats as they come to drink. Mist nets can also be placed in open areas or roads within forested habitats to intercept them on flyways. Along the coast and barrier islands, nets placed over fresh water pools, ponds, ruts, roads or trails may be more successful if they are near the edge of a salt marsh.
Although identifying bat calls to the species level can be difficult, acoustic surveys are a useful tool for surveying bats. These surveys are non-invasive, require fewer personnel, are less costly, and can be used to more readily survey multiple habitats when compared to direct capture of bats. Acoustic detections of bats can be used to get information on their range distribution, community structure, relative population size, temporal activity, and habitat use.
For the best results in an acoustic survey for this species, it is recommended to use a stationary point with a low amount of vegetation clutter to collect data as opposed to a mobile transect. Even when using the best approach for acoustic research, detection probability is still very low; approximately 16% for this species.
The Northern Yellow Bat ranges throughout the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States, from Virginia to Texas, and south to Honduras. However, a few records of Northern Yellow Bat occur in Virginia and New Jersey. Since they depend on Spanish moss for roosting, their range is very similar to that of Spanish moss.
Loss of habitat decreases roosting opportunities for northern yellow bats and appears to be the greatest threat to the species. Loss of mature hardwood stands and Spanish moss also poses a significant challenge to this species and may increase commuting costs for bats roosting in less desirable areas (Castleberry 2020). Habitat loss is partially due to development into urban areas. Pesticide use, drowning in pools, and collision with towers and wind turbines also represent potential threats.
Although considered stable across its range, the Northern Yellow bat is listed as vulnerable within the state of Georgia.
Live oak‐dominated maritime forest appears to be the most important roosting habitat for northern yellow bats in Georgia and should be preserved where it currently remains. Where this habitat is absent or degraded, long‐term management goals should focus on creation and retention of hardwood forest types. Management practices, such as promotion and retention of large hardwood trees and reduction of midstory vegetation through prescribed fire or mechanical methods may provide more roost site availability for northern yellow bats.
Investing resources into survey efforts to determine statewide distribution, additional roost sites, habitat requirements in the interior coastal plain, and increased knowledge of basic ecology & life history is imperative to determine an effective management strategy.
Baird, A.B, J. K. Braun, M. A. Mares, J. C. Morales, J. C. Patton, C.Q. Tran, and J. W. Bickham. 2015. Molecular systematic revision of tree bats (Lasiurini): doubling the native mammals of the Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Mammalogy 96(6):1255–1274.
Castleberry, S.B., C.R. Bland, J.M. Beck, E. Kurimo‐Beechuk, K.M. Morris, J. Hepinstall-Cymerman. 2020. Multi‐Scale Assessment of Male Northern Yellow Bat Roost Selection. The Journal of Wildlife Management 1–8. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21843.
Coleman, L. S., K. M. Morris, and S. B. Castleberry. 2012. Characteristics of Lasiurus intermedius (Northern Yellow Bat) Roosts on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Southeastern Naturalist 11:534-536.
Morgan, C. N., L. K. Ammerman, K. D. Demere, J. B. Doty, Y. J. Nakazawa, and M. R. Mauldin. 2019. Field identification key and guide for bats of the United States of America. Museum of Texas Tech University.
Neece, B. D. 2017. North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) in South Carolina: Acoustic Detection and Landscape Occupancy of Bats. Clemson University.
Ried, F. A. 2006. Mustela nivalis Least Weasel. Mammals of North America. 3rd ed. Peterson Field Guides New York, New York.
SCDNR [South Carolina Department of Natural Resources] 2005. Northern Yellow Bat (Lasiurus intermedius). Accessed on 10 Dec 2018. From http://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/northernyellowbat.pdf.
TPWD [Texas Parks and Wildlife Department] n.d. Northern Yellow Bat (Lasiurus intermedius). Accessed on 22 Dec 2018 From https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/northyellow/.
Trousdale, A. W., and D. C. Beckett. 2002. Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) Recorded from Mist-Net and Bridge Surveys in Southern Mississippi. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 47(4):185-189.
Webster, W. D., J. K. Jones, Jr., and R. J. Baker. 1980. Lasiurus intermedius. Mammalian Species 132:1-3.
M. MacKnight, Dec. 2018: original account
P. Sirajuddin, April. 2019: updated species description, habitat, range, and management. Edited for format.
S. Thrasher, June. 2019: Updated survey recommendations. Edited for grammar.
S. Krueger, March 2020: reviewed for final