Seasons of Wildlife
Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge is for education and research by permit only and closed to the public.
Ozark big-eared bat
The Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) was federally listed as endangered in 1979 due to its small population size, reduced and limited distribution, and vulnerability to human disturbance. Disturbance of hibernating bats causes the loss of critical fat stores and increases the probability of starvation during the winter, while disturbance at maternity roosts can result in loss of young. The Ozark big-eared bat is an insectivorous bat that specializes in moths and uses caves year-round.
The gray bat (Myotis grisescens) was federally listed as endangered on April 28, 1976. The gray bat can be distinguished from other species by the uniform color of the fur on its back in which hair shafts are gray from base to tip. The fur of other bats within its range are bi- or tri-colored. Gray bats are one of the few species of bats in North America that inhabit caves year-round, migrating each year between winter and summer caves.
Oklahoma cave crayfish
Cave crayfish (Cambarus tartarus) use caves in the area and are connected with a complex cave food web with bats. For instance, the bats feed on terrestrial insects (outside the cave) and deposit guano inside the cave. Guano is a highly nutritious protein-rich substance because bats don’t completely digest their food. Bat droppings in turn support an unusual and healthy ecosystem under the earth’s surface. Within the caves, fungus and microscopic decomposers break down organic material such as guano, feeding many other species.