Title: Bat Population Surveys and Monitoring

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Project ID: WAPS02

Principal Investigators: H. Lisle Gibbs / Bridget K.G. Brown

Project Overview: From 2011 to present day, 30-mile route surveys have been conducted by staff at the Division of Wildlife and volunteers to monitor changes in bat populations. There were 43 routes across the state as of 2017, with more being added every year. These surveys began after White-nose Syndrome, WNS, was discovered in a hibernacula in Lawrence County, Ohio. The goal of this project is to monitor the bats in Ohio and the potential effects that WNS may be having on them. Ohio has seen declines in our two largest hibernacula of 91% and 99% as of 2016. The acoustic project allows us to determine if those declines are consistent in the summer populations. The surveys were done on days where the temperatures were above 50 ̊ F and wind speeds less than ten mph. The surveys began 30 minutes after sunset. Bat calls were recorded using AnabatTM Secure Digital II units (Titley Scientific, Columbia MO) with a Global Positioning System Compact Flash card (SiRF STAR III) attached via a Personal Digital Assistant. Once the data is collected, the calls are run through a bat call identification program (BCID East) in order to be identified to a group level. These groups were bats with a low frequency call, mid-frequency call, and Myotic frequency call.  This data was then compared across all years of the study and across landscape types to determine trends in detection rates and habitat use for the benefit of bat management.

This project also monitors bats throughout the summer with a roost monitoring project. The Bat Roost Monitoring Project allows citizens to help the Division of Wildlife collect important information about bats in Ohio. Volunteers watch bat roosts twice during the summer and count the number of bats they see coming out of the roost. The Division of Wildlife uses this information to see where bats are roosting throughout the state, and how bat colonies are doing from year to year. There are 11 species of bat in Ohio, and 2 of them are known to roost in man-made structures fairly regularly. With this project, we can better assess the status of those species.