Ph.D., Clemson University
Office: Science Building 273
Research Interests: : bat ecology, multi-scale habitat selection, forest wildlife management, and conservation biology.
My research investigates the roosting and foraging ecology of forest bats, with a focus on the effects of active forest management on habitat selection. Forests are essential to bats and because habitat loss is one of the primary threats to bats, information on how bats use forests is critical to resource managers seeking to maintain healthy forest bat populations. I use geographic information systems and information theoretic approaches to assess multi-scale habitat selection in dynamic landscapes. The results of my research on forest bats can be used in management plans for a wide range of North American forest bats, including both rare and common species.
I have partnered with the Joint Fire Sciences Program and USDA Forest Service to study the effects of prescribed fire on the roosting ecology of Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis). Frequent landscape-scale fires are important for restoration of pines and oaks, which were common in prehistoric forests, but little is known about the effects of large-scale prescribed burning on wildlife. Concerns about impacts to Indiana bats are a key factor in deciding when and where large-scale burns can be implemented in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Because Indiana bats primarily roost in conifer snags in this region, fire may indirectly benefit bats by restoring pine habitats and by creating new snags. However, we know very little about how prescribed fire affects existing snags and whether fire can create sufficient snags to replace those that are destroyed. The data from this study will inform management decisions and policy guidelines that balance the needs of Indiana bats with the needs of the fire-adapted ecosystem in which they exist.
Indiana State University just concluded our 10th full year of research at a mitigation site for Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) near the Indianapolis International Airport in central Indiana. Bats and their habitat have been protected in this area since the Airport Authority and US Fish and Wildlife Service signed a Habitat Conservation Partnership in 1992. ISU’s contribution includes annual monitoring and study of the roosting and foraging ecology of Indiana bats using the Airport mitigation lands.
Just an hour south of the Airport project area, we are conducting a long-term study of use of managed forests by bats. For the past seven years, ISU has used mist netting and acoustic surveys to assess the bat community near harvest treatment sites. In 2012, we partnered with Ball State University to radio track northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) and Indiana bats to day roosts in the Yellowwood and Morgan-Monroe State Forests. This study is part of the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment implemented by Purdue University, Indiana DNR, and others.
In 2012, we began a 31-month study on the roosting ecology of Virginia big-eared bats, a federally endangered species that occurs in only 4 states in the eastern U.S. This project was funded by the NC Department of Transportation and involves collaboration with several agencies and organizations in NC. In 2013, we documented new locations for maternity roosts for this population of bats and, subsequently, began partnering with others on long-term conservation plans for Virginia big-eared bats in NC.
I recently completed a study of eastern small-footed bats, which are rare across their range. These bats are so tiny (4–6 g) that, until recently, it has been virtually impossible to use radio telemetry to track them and little is known about their natural roosts. ). In the northeastern United States, eastern small-footed bat populations have declined significantly due to White-nose Syndrome (WNS), an emerging infectious disease that is causing local extinctions of cave-wintering bat species. The objective of our study was to study the roosting ecology of eastern small-footed bats, including locating and describing natural roosts, measuring bats’ movements, and measuring bats’ temperatures in their roost sites relative to ambient temperature. The study provided baseline data on the characteristics of natural roosts in the southern Appalachians, the size of the roosting range for male bats, and how bats choose roost sites in bridges, which are often used by both male and female eastern small-footed bats.
O’Keefe, J.M., S.C. Loeb, P.D. Gerard, J.D. Lanham. 2013. Effects of riparian buffer width on activity and detection of common bats in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 37:319-326.
Lima, S.L. and J.M. O’Keefe. 2013. Do predators influence the behavior of bats? Biological Reviews, 88:626-644.
Lima, S.L. and J.M. O=Keefe.
2013. Do predators influence the behavior of bats? Biological Reviews, in
Loeb, S.C., J.M. O’Keefe. 2011. Bats and gaps: the role of early successional patches in the roosting and foraging ecology of bats. Eds, Greenburg, C. H., B. Collins, and F.Thompson. Springer Press. Pp. 167–189.
Whitaker, J.O., Jr., J.M. O'Keefe. 2011. Managing forest habitat for bats. Appendix 2 in Vories, K.C., Caswell, A.K., and Price, T.M., eds. Proceedings of Protecting threatened bats at coal mines: a technical interactive forum. 31 August - 3 Sept. 2010. South Charleston, WV.
O’Keefe, J.M., M. LaVoie. 2011. Maternity colony of eastern small-footed myotis (Myotis leibii Audubon and Bachman) in a historic building. Southeastern Naturalist, 10:381–383.
O’Keefe, J.M., S.C. Loeb, J.D. Lanham, H.S. Hill, Jr. 2009. Macrohabitat factors affect day roost selection by eastern red bats and eastern pipistrelles in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management 257:1757–1763. Download PDF.
Loeb, S.C., J.M. O’Keefe. 2006. Habitat use by forest bats in SC in relation to local, stand, and landscape characteristics. Journal of Wildlife Management 70: 1210–1218. Download PDF.
Gumbert, M.W., J.M. O’Keefe, J.R. MacGregor. 2002. Roost site fidelity by Indiana bats in Kentucky. Pg. 143–152 in Proceedings of the Symposium on the Indiana Bat: Biology and Management of an Endangered Species (A. Kurta and J. Kennedy, eds.). Bat Conservation International.