Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A comparison of passive and active acoustic sampling for a bat community impacted by White-nose syndrome

December 1, 2014

In the summers of 2011 and 2012, we compared passive and active acoustic sampling for bats at 31 sites at Fort Drum Military Installation, New York. We defined active sampling as acoustic sampling that occurred in 30-min intervals between the hours of sunset and 0200 with a user present to manipulate the directionality of the microphone. We defined passive sampling as acoustic sampling that occurred over a 12-h period (1900–0700 hours) without a user present and with the microphone set in a predetermined direction. We detected seven of the nine possible species at Fort Drum, including the federally endangered Indiana bat Myotis sodalis, the proposed-for-listing northern bat M. septentrionalis, the little brown bat M. lucifugus, and the big brown bat Eptesicus fuscus, which are impacted by white-nose syndrome (WNS); and the eastern red bat Lasiurus borealis, the hoary bat L. cinereus, and the silver-haired bat Lasionycteris noctivagans, which are not known to be impacted by WNS. We did not detect two additional WNS-impacted species known to historically occur in the area: the eastern small-footed bat Myotis leibii and the tri-colored bat Perimyotis subflavus. Single-season occupancy models revealed lower detection probabilities of all detected species using active sampling versus passive sampling. Additionally, overall detection probabilities declined in detected WNS-impacted species between years. A paired t-test of simultaneous sampling on 21 occasions revealed that overall recorded foraging activity per hour was greater using active than passive sampling for big brown bats and greater using passive than active sampling for little brown bats. There was no significant difference in recorded activity between methods for other WNS-impacted species, presumably because these species have been so reduced in number that their “apparency” on the landscape is lower. Finally, a cost analysis of standard passive and active sampling protocols revealed that passive sampling is substantially more cost-effective than active sampling per hour of data collection. We recommend passive sampling over active sampling methodologies as they are defined in our study for detection probability and/or occupancy studies focused on declining bat species in areas that have experienced severe WNS-associated impacts.

Publication Year 2014
Title A comparison of passive and active acoustic sampling for a bat community impacted by White-nose syndrome
DOI 10.3996/082013-JFWM-057
Authors Laci S. Coleman, W. Mark Ford, Christopher A. Dobony, Eric R. Britzke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Index ID 70187377
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown