The Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides a home for multiple different endangered species. However one of the most studied is Myotis sodalis, more commonly known as the Indiana Brown Bat. In the summer they are not south of Tennessee and in the winter they are not in Michigan, Ohio or northern Indiana. In the winter the bats hibernate in limestone caves or old mines. They need specific habitat requirements including a cool, humid cave with a stable temperature. In the summer they live in wooded areas and forage along rivers or in trees for food.
The largest threat to the Indiana Bat is disturbances to their roosting and hibernation areas. This is almost purely due to human interaction with the caves that the bats hibernate in, whether it is on purpose or not. The bats are disturbed by vandalism, tourism, cave commercialization, and researchers. The bats can also be aroused by gates that are placed in cave entrances to stop people from going in, because it can change the airflow and change the conditions of the cave or it blocks the bats from being able to fly.
the bats are aroused from hibernation it can cause death of the bat directly
from it, or it depletes their fat supplies, which can also lead to their death.
The Indiana Bats hibernate in very large groups in a few caves so a large
disturbance or single natural disaster can eliminate a large number of bats all
The Indiana Bats are also threatened
by the clearing of habitats for agriculture which further decreases the areas
available for the bats to live. This cuts down on roosting sites that the
females use for breeding, which can be devastating to the species. Anything
that alters the environment from the very specific requirements that these bats
need can be devastating to the species.
Over the past 20 years the population of Indiana bats has dropped by nearly 50%, and the total population is now only about a third of what it was in the 1960s. As of 2003 it was estimated that there were 387,300 total Indiana Bats. The total population of the Indiana Bats is still currently decreasing, but there are some actions being taken to protect them from going extinct.
The Indiana Bat is on the IUCN Red List of endangered animals and qualifies as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, so there are programs in place by the U.S. government to protect these bats. The recovery plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects to reach their goal of the bats being no longer endangered by the year 2027. This is mainly done by protecting the hibernacula of the bats as well as protecting forest that is often used for mating for these bats.