Developing online integrated data visualization tools for WNS and NABat

Science Center Objects

Bat Research

Research collaboration: Brian Reichert (FORT), Anne Ballmann (NWHC), Jeremy Coleman (USFWS), Paul Cryan (FORT), Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC), and Katherine Irvine (NOROCK)

White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which has decimated hibernating bat populations across North America since it emerged 10 years ago in New York. While diagnostic tools for WNS have greatly improved, data from various diagnostic labs remain scattered among disparate archives and databases in several locations. Currently, reporting on outcomes of WNS disease diagnosis for public-facing visualization tools is limited to ‘positive’ and ‘suspect’ diagnostic criteria, and is subject to delays in reporting (https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/).

The first goal of this project is to develop a WNS Tracking System—a real-time, online data visualization tool, linking and consolidating diagnostic results from all WNS diagnostic labs. The WNS Tracking System includes data query and visualization tools that display ‘positive’, ‘suspect’, and ‘negative’ diagnostic information by species through time. In addition to diagnostic data (drawn from the existing National White-Nose Diagnostic Database), the WNS Tracking System, for the first time, brings online and displays current and historical bat data from three additional sources: the NABat Database, the Bat Population Database (BPD), and the US Bat Banding Database (USBBD). These data include species occurrence records and local abundance from colony counts (where available) over time at multiple spatial scales, allowing managers to assess population impacts at scales relevant to management decision-makers. These tools facilitate species status assessments and analyses of impact and recovery.

As of 2017, NABat monitoring occurs in about 39 states and 10 Canadian provinces. As monitoring efforts increase through time, NABat will provide regular reports on species status and trends, document changes in distributions, help focus conservation efforts, and monitor efficacy of conservation and adaptive management efforts. USGS developed a database for NABat. Data stored in the NABat database includes all acoustic monitoring and colony count data submitted by NABat partners. All data stored in the NABat database is georeferenced and easily accessible to mapping services and other data querying tools. A goal of this project is to develop an online data visualization tool for NABat. The tool addresses a critical need to visualize current survey data alongside historical bat data to evaluate changes over time and help guide monitoring efforts. By including georeferenced historical bat records from the BPD and USBBD we will be able to improve monitoring of bat populations and their habitat by providing information on the potential species pool for any given sampling location, a critical component to acoustic monitoring, and by guiding sampling effort based on patterns of seasonal phenology of bat migration and volancy of pups.  

The development and implementation of NABat was largely motivated by the need for standardized monitoring to evaluate the impacts of WNS. Integrating NABat data with WNS diagnostic data will greatly improve our ability to answer specific questions relevant to the management of WNS, while simultaneously improving our ability to monitor bat populations and their habitat needs. NABat and WNS are intimately related, yet we recognize a need for two separate online data visualization tools, a WNS Tracking System accessible through https://whitenosesyndrome.org and an NABat Mapping Service accessible through https://NABatMonitoring.org. However, both data visualization tools benefit from being able to access the same databases. Our work provides a solution that addresses the needs of both WNS and NABat stakeholders by developing a common back-end data integration tool (DAT) that will be accessible online through the WNS Tracking System and the NABat Mapping Service.   

Small Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) colony

Small Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) colony

(Credit: Shawn Thomas. Public domain.)