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Gary McCracken

Professor Emeritus

Research Interest

Evolutionary ecology, behavior, disease ecology, conservation biology


Ph.D., Cornell University – 1976

B.A., University of Notre Dame – 1970


McCracken is a field biologist who applies molecular tools and innovative field techniques to investigate questions concerning the ecology, behavior, and evolution of bats, and occasionally other animals.  His research on bats has concerned mating systems, social behavior, communication, and relatedness.  He also has investigated foraging and flight behaviors, links to high altitude insect migrations, and the ecosystem services of bats.  His work on disease ecology has concerned diseases that bats can give to humans (rabies) and disease that humans give to bats (white-nose syndrome). For four decades, Gary, his students, and colleagues have repeatedly returned the Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) as a “magic well” of continuing significant and surprising discoveries.   

McCracken has received numerous honors, including the Gerrit Miller Award for his contributions to research on bats, the James R. Cox Professorship, the Alexander Prize, and the Macebearer Award, the highest faculty honor given at his University.  He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. He served as EEB Department Head from 2008 – 2014.


Selected Publications  

(Visit Google Scholar for more publications)

McCracken, G.F., Lee, Y-F., Gillam, E.H., Frick, W, and Krauel, J. 2021. Bats flying at high altitudes. Pp.189-208. In. 50 Years of Bat Research: Foundations and New Frontiers.  B.K. Lim, M.B. Fenton, R. M. Brigham, S. Mistry, A. Kurta, E.H. Gillam, A. Russell, and J. Ortega, eds. Springer

O’Mara, M.T., Amorim, F., Scacco, M., McCracken, G.F., Safi, K., Mata, V., Tome’, R., Swartz, S., Wikelski, M., Rebel, H., and Deckmann, D.K.N. 2021.  Bats use topography and nocturnal updrafts to fly high and fast. Current Biology 31: 1-6 . doi: org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.042.

Krauel, J.J., V.A. Brown, J.K. Westbrook, and G.F. McCracken. 2018. Predator-prey interaction reveals local effects of high-altitude insect migration.  Oecologia 186:49-58.

McCracken, G.F., R.F. Bernard, M. Gamba-Rios, R. Wolfe, J.J. Krauel, D.N. Jones, A.L. Russell and V.A. Brown. 2018. Rapid range expansion of the Brazilian free-tailed bat in the southeastern United States, 2008-2016.  Journal of Mammalogy 99: 312-320 doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyx188.

Krauel, J.J., J.M. Ratcliffe, J.K. Westbrook, and G.F. McCracken. 2018. Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) adjust foraging behaviour in response to migratory moths. Canadian Journal of Zoology 96: 513-520. doi:10.1139/cjz-2017-0284

Mata, V. A., Rebelo, H., Amorim, F., McCracken, G. F., Jarman, S., & Beja, P. 2018. How much is enough? Effects of technical and biological replication on metabarcoding dietary analysis. Molecular Ecology. doi:10.1111/mec.14779

Bernard, R.F., E.V. Willcox, K. L. Parise, J.T. Foster, and G. F. McCracken. 2017 White-nose syndrome fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, on bats captured emerging from caves during winter in the southeastern United States. BMC Zoology 2:12. doi:10.1186/s40850-017-0021-2

López-Hoffman, L., Diffendorfer, J., Wiederholt, R., Bagstad, K. J., Thogmartin, W. E., McCracken, G., Semmens, D. J. (2017). Operationalizing the telecoupling framework for migratory species using the spatial subsidies approach to examine ecosystem services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats. Ecology and Society, 22(4). doi:10.5751/ES-09589-220423

Bernard, R.F. and G.F. McCracken 2017.  Winter behavior of bats and the progression of white-nose syndrome in the southeastern United States. Ecology and Evolution 7(5): 1487-1496

McCracken, G.F., K. Safi, T.H. Kunz, D.K.N. Dechmann, S.M. Swartz, and M. Wikelski. 2016. Airplane tracking documents the fastest flight speeds recoded for bats.  Royal Science Open Science 3:160398. /10.1098/rsos.160398

Brown, V.A., E. Braun de Torrez, and G.F. McCracken. 2015. Crop pests eaten by bats in organic pecan orchards.  Crop Protection 67:66-71

Krauel, J.J., J.K. Westbrook, and G.F. McCracken. 2015. Weather-driven dynamics in a dual-migrant system: moths and bats. Journal of Animal Ecology.  84: 604-614

Gilbert, A. T. G. F. McCracken, L. L. Sheeler, L. I. Muller, D. O’Rourke, W. J. Kelch, J. C. New, Jr.  2015. Rabies surveillance among bats in Tennessee, 1996–2010 J. Wildlife Disease. 51:821-832.

Davidai, N., J.K. Westbrook, J-P. Lessard , T.G. Hallam, and G.F. McCracken. 2015. The importance of natural habitats to bats in intensive agricultural landscapes.  Biological Conservation. 190:107-114

Wiederholt, R., L. Lopez-Hoffman, J. Cline, R.A, Medellin, P. Cryan, A. Russell, G.F. McCracken, J. Diffendorfer and D. Semmens. 2013. Moving across the border: modeling migratory bat populations.  Ecosphere 4(9): 1-16.

Krauel, J.J. and G.F. McCracken. 2013. Recent advances in bat migration research. In. Bat Evolution, Ecology and Conservation.  R.A. Adams and S.C. Petersen, Eds.  Springer Science Press. NY.

Boyles, J.G, Sole, C.L., Cryan, P.M. and G.F. McCracken. 2013. On estimating the economic value of insectivorous bats: prospects and priorities for biologists. In. Bat Evolution, Ecology and Conservation.  R.A. Adams and S.C. Petersen, Eds.  Springer Science Press, NY.

McCracken, G.F., J.K. Westbrook, V.A. Brown, M. Eldridge, P. Federico, and T.H. Kunz.  2012.  Bats track and exploit insect pest populations.  PLoS ONE. 7(8).e43839

Hayman, D.T.S., R.A. Bowen, P.M. Cryan, G.F. McCracken, T.J. O’Shea, A. Peel, A.T. Gilbert, C.T. Webb, J.L.N. Wood. 2012. Ecology of zoonotic infectious diseases in bats: current knowledge and future directions. Zoonoses and Public Health. doi: 10.1111/zph.12000.

Hallam, T.G. and G.F. McCracken. 2011.  Culling and the management of the panzootic White Nose Syndrome in hibernating bats.  Conservation Biology 25: 189-194.

Boyles, J.G., Cryan, PM, McCracken G.F., and Kunz T.H. 2011.  Economic importance of bats to agriculture.  Science 332: 341-342.


Contact Information

  • 538 Hesler
  • Mailing Address: 569 Dabney Hall, 1416 Circle Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996
  • Phone: (865) 974-6194
  • Fax: (865) 974-3067
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