Townsend's big-eared bat
Corynorhinus townsendii
ITIS Species Code:   203452         NatureServ Element Code:   AMACC08010
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

0.0 %
81.5 %
< 0.1 %
7.0 %
0.6 %
< 0.1 %
0.7 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
4.8 %
4.8 %
0.0 %
0.0 %

15.3 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.0 %
17.0 %
< 0.1 %
1.5 %
0.1 %
< 0.1 %
0.1 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
1.1 %
1.0 %
0.0 %
79.1 %

3.2 %
This bat is restricted to a few mountain ranges in the northern portion of the western North Carolina high country (Webster et al. 1985).

This species roosts in caves year around (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). Primary roosts (frequently used) are typically deep, 'non-drafty' caves. Secondary roosts (used infrequently or only once) may be in shallow caves or rock crevices, which typically surround the primary roost cave but can be located as far away as the outer limits of the bat's nightly foraging forays. Both limestone and granitic fracture caves are used. Limestone caves may be the only type used as nurseries (Webster et al. 1985).


Maternity and hibernation colonies typically are in caves and mine tunnels. Prefers relatively cold places for hibernation, often near entrances and in well-ventilated areas. In California, most limestone caves are too warm for successful hibernation; solitary males and small groups of females are known to hibernate in buildings in the central part of the state. Does not use crevices or cracks; hangs from the ceiling, generally near the zone of total darkness (Schmidly 1991). Uses caves, buildings, and tree cavities for night roosts. Throughout much of the known range, commonly occurs in mesic habitats characterized by coniferous and deciduous forests (Kunz and Martin 1982), but occupies a broad range of habitats (e.g., see Handley 1959). In California and Washington, known from limestone caves, lava tubes, and human-made structures in coastal lowlands, cultivated valleys, and nearby hills covered with mixed vegetation. On West Coast found regularly in forested regions and buildings, and in areas with a mosaic of woodland, grassland, and/or shrubland. Recorded from pine-fir- hemlock-broadleaf deciduous forest in western Oregon, and from the edge of spruce-fir forest in Colorado (see Handley 1959). In Texas, ranges from desert scrub to pinyon-juniper woodland, consistently in areas with canyons or cliffs (Schmidly 1991). In New Mexico, most commonly captured in evergreen forests during warm months, least commonly captured in xeric shrublands (see Kunz and Martin 1982). In Arizona, occurs in desertscrub, in shelters in desert mountains (where infrequent), oak woodland, pinyon-juniper, and conifer forests (Hoffmeister 1986). Apparently restricted in Kansas and Oklahoma to riparian communities and nearby gypsum caves in the mid-grass prairie region. Generally uncommon in prairies and extreme desert, although occurs in the lower elevations of the arid plateau and desert ranges of northcentral Mexico and the arid valleys south of the transverse volcanic belt. Known in Mexico mostly from relatively arid regions (e.g., grassy hills with nearby pine-oak woodland) but also from more humid localities with oak, pine, juniper, cypress, madrone, and manzanita (Handley 1959). Ozark and Appalachian populations inhabit caves mostly in oak-hickory forest (Handley 1959). Nimble; able to fly through narrow passages (Hoffmeister 1986). Females gather in small nursery colonies in the warm parts of caves or mines, sometimes in buildings (western U.S.). Individuals generally return to the same maternity roost in successive years. In Oregon, both sexes apparently use a series of interim roost sites between emergence from hibernation and the time females enter into maternity colonies, with little individual fidelity to these sites (Dobkin et al. 1995).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
238 Piedmont/Mountain Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Seasonally to permanently flooded areas with aquatic vegetation. Waterlily, pondweed, hydrilla smartweed are a few of the species that can occur. Piedmont/Mountain Semipermanent Impoundment (in part)
239 Piedmont/Mountain Emergent Vegetation Emergent vegetation of all wetland hydrologies. Sites would commonly support species such as tussock sedge, rushs, and cattail alliances. Rocky Bar and Shore (in part)
267 Riverbank Shrublands Riverside shrubs with temporarily flooded hydrologies. Found in the both the Mountains and Piedmont. Containing dominants such as smooth alder and a Carolina or black willows. Sand and Mud Bar
269 Floodplain Wet Shrublands Saturated shrublands of the Piedmont, includes buttonbush, swamp-loosestrife, decodon and alders. Piedmont/mountain Semipermanent Impoundment
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
220 Piedmont Xeric Pine Forests Dry to xeric pine forests dominated by Virginia pine, shortleaf pine or Eastern Red Cedar. Pine Oak Heath
226 Piedmont Xeric Woodlands Generally post and blackjack oak dominated woodlands. White ash and pignut hickory can be found in combination with Eastern red cedar on glades. Xeric Hardpan Forest
20 Coniferous Regeneration Regenerating pine stands. Predominantly loblolly pine, but slash and longleaf stands occur as well. No equivalent
21 Coniferous Cultivated Plantation (natural / planted) Managed pine plantations, densely planted. Most planted stands are loblolly, but slash and longleaf occur as well. No equivalent
51 Deciduous Cultivated Plantation Planted deciduous trees. Includes sweetgum and sycamore plantations. No equivalent
36 Successional Deciduous Forests Regenerating deciduous trees with a shrub stature. Commonly dominated by sweetgum, tulip poplars and maples. No equivalent
180 Agricultural Crop Fields Farm fields used for row crops. No equivalent
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
203 Urban Low-Intensity Developed Highly developed areas with vegetation accounting for < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
204 Urban High-Intensity Developed and Transportation Corridors Highly developed areas including infrastructure such as roads, railroads. Vegetation represents < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
8 Open water Open water without aquatic vegetation. No equivalent
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
521 Spruce/Fir Forest High Elevation Frazer-Fir - Red Spruce, Red Spruce and Red-Spruce-Yellow Birch Forests. Tree densities included here include both woodland to forest density. Highly intermixed with Northern Hardwoods, Grassy Balds, and Shrub Balds. Red Spruce--Fraser Fir Forest, Fraser Fir Forest
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
523 Grassy Bald High Elevation grassy balds including Pennsylvania sedge, mountain oatgrass, as well as shrubby areas dominated by Alleghany and smooth blackberry. Grassy Bald
524 Shrub Bald Variable phenologies, predominantly evergreen balds with rhododendon and Mountain laurels. Deciduous shrubs including green alder and Alleghany and smooth blackberry are included as well. Red Oak - Chestnut Oak Woodlands may be included in cases where the density of the woodland species is low and the shrub component is dense. Heath Bald
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
527 Appalachian Hemlock Upland hemlock forests of the moutains region. Vary from side slopes to steep slope positions. Canada Hemlock Forest
528 Appalachian Xeric Pine Forest Pine forests and woodlands on xeric sites. A variety of pines, including Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pine. Often small areas of dense pine within a matrix of Xeric Oak-Pine Forests. Pine Oak Heath
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
533 Appalachian Swamp Forest Evergreen and deciduous forests with saturated hydrologies. This class may contain a variety of trees species, including hemlock - red maple, pitch pine, and white pine forests. Swamp Forest-Bog Complex, Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
534 Appalachian Wet Shrubland/ Herbaceous Saturated shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Often mapped as an inclusion in Appalachian Swamp Forest. Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
535 Talus/Outcrops/Cliffs Includes seep talus slopes with sparce vegetation, as well as outcrops including, granitic outcrops. Some outcrops will have been mapped as barren rock. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Kunz, T.H. and R.A. Martin. 1982. PLECOTUS TOWNSENDII. American Society Mamm., Mammalian Species No. 175. 6 pp.

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

Frost, D. R., and R. M. Timm. 1992. Phylogeny of plecotine bats (Chiroptera:"Vespertilionidae"):proposal of a logically consistent taxonomy. Am. Mus. Novitates 3034:1-16.

Tumlison, R., and M. E. Douglas. 1992. Parsimony analysis and the phylogeny of the plecotine bats (Chiroptera:Vespertilionidae). J. Mamm. 73:276-285.

Arita, H. T. 1993. Conservation of cave bats in Mexico. J. Mamm. 74:693-702.

Whitaker, J.O. Jr. and W.J. Hamilton, Jr. 1998. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 583 pp.

Pearson, O.P., M.R. Koford and A.K. Pearson. 1952. Reproduction of the lump-nosed bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) in California. J. Mamm. 33:273-320.

Jones, C. 1977. Plecotus rafinesquii. American Soc. Mamm., Mammalian Species No. 69. 4 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.

Ingles, L.G. 1965. Mammals of the Pacific States. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Connecticut.

Barbour, R. W., and W. H. Davis. 1969. Bats of America. The University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, Kentucky.

Hamilton, William J., Jr., and John O. Whitaker, Jr. 1979. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 346 pp.

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

Hall, E. R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. Second edition. 2 Volumes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York.

Schwartz, Charles W., and Elizabeth R. Schwartz. 1981. The wild mammals of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia. 356 pp.

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.

van Zyll de Jong, C. G. 1985. Handbook of Canadian Mammals. Volume 2. Bats. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 212 pp.

Webster, W. D., J. F. Parnell and W. C. Biggs Jr. 1985. Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Hoffmeister, D. F. 1986. Mammals of Arizona. Univ. Arizona Press and Arizona Game and Fish Dept. 602 pp.

Caire, W., J. D. Tyler, B. P. Glass, and M. A. Mares. Z. Marsh (illustrator). 1989. Mammals of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. Oklahoma. 567 pp.

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

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853