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Status and trends of North American bats: Summer occupancy analysis 2010-2019

May 1, 2022

• We developed an analytical pipeline supported by web-based infrastructure for integrating continental scale bat monitoring data (stationary acoustic, mobile acoustic, and capture records) to estimate summer (May 1–Aug 31) occupancy probabilities and changes in occupancy over time for 12 North American bat species. This serves as one of multiple lines of evidence that inform the status and trends of bat populations.

• We analyzed data from a total of 12 bat species (Table 1), 11 of which have tested positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), a fungal pathogen that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS)—a disease that has led to significant rates of mortality for subterranean hibernating bat species in North America. A twelfth species was also selected because of high rates of mortality at wind energy facilities. Additional species were considered but not selected due to data limitations.

• We estimated occupancy probabilities for 2010 through 2019 for three species (Myotis lucifugus, MYLU; Myotis septentrionalis, MYSE; and Perimyotis subflavus, PESU). For an additional nine species, we estimated occupancy probabilities for 2016 through 2019 (Myotis evotis, MYEV; Myotis grisescens, MYGR; Myotis leibii, MYLE; Myotis thysanodes, MYTH; Myotis volans, MYVO; Myotis yumanensis, MYYU; Eptesicus fuscus, EPFU; Lasionycteris noctivagans, LANO; and Lasiurus cinereus, LACI). • For each species, we provide range-wide occupancy probability predictions (e.g., predicted summer occupancy distribution maps) each year at a spatial resolution of 100 km2 and provide regional estimates of mean occupancy probability aggregated at larger spatial scales (state/province/territory, range-wide).

• For each species, we also provide trends over time (average annual change rate and total change rate) in mean occupancy probabilities at multiple spatial scales (state/province/territory, range-wide) and when possible, over multiple timescales (short, medium, long).

• Results suggest that over the short-term (2016-2019), two (Myotis lucifugus and Perimyotis subflavus) of 12 species have experienced declines in range-wide average occupancy probability with at least 95% certainty. Seven species showed either minor increases or decreases in range-wide average occupancy probability but with less than 95% certainty in both trend indicators. Results over the longer term (eight years and 10 years of sampling) suggest that three hibernating species known to be highly affected by white-nose syndrome (Myotis lucifugus, Myotis septentrionalis, and Perimyotis subflavus) have experienced marked declines in range-wide average occupancy probabilities, with severity varying by species and region. Finally, the results for three species (Eptesicus fuscus, Lasiurus cinereus, Lasionycteris noctivagans) were inconclusive due to 1) borderline convergence issues in the model fitting procedure which suggests potentially unreliable estimates, 2) failure to reliably distinguish between false positives and true positive detections for ambiguous detections, and 3) largely uninformative covariates for occupancy and detection.

• For Myotis lucifugus, Myotis septentrionalis, and Perimyotis subflavus we found meaningful associations in space and time between declining winter populations (likely a result of WNS) and summer occupancy distributions.

• The representativeness of sampling data for each species’ status and trend estimates (e.g., state/province/territory) were also evaluated based on the percent of grid cells sampled each year with a goal of understanding the reliability of regional estimates and improving future monitoring efforts.

• This work represents the most comprehensive effort to date to model North American bat distributions across their continental ranges. Despite current limitations highlighted in the discussion, the analytical methods and resulting status and trends estimates provide the best available science on summer bat populations across North America and will continue to improve over time as monitoring data sets and analytical methods improve.

• Moving forward, our occupancy analyses will continue to improve with submission of more 1) data from currently underrepresented areas (i.e., improved geographic representation), 2) manually-vetted acoustic recordings, 3) capture records, and 4) roost location and count data (summer and winter).

Publication Year 2022
Title Status and trends of North American bats: Summer occupancy analysis 2010-2019
DOI 10.7944/P927I36K
Authors Bradley James Udell, Bethany Straw, Tina L. Cheng, Kyle Enns, Winifred F. Frick, Benjamin Gotthold, Kathryn Irvine, Cori Lausen, Susan Loeb, Jonathan D. Reichard, Thomas J. Rodhouse, Dane Smith, Christian Stratton, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Brian Reichert
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Index ID 70239128
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center