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North American Bat Monitoring Program regional protocol for surveying with stationary deployments of echolocation recording devices: Narrative version 1.0, Pacific Northwestern US

August 31, 2019

The outbreak of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and the growing awareness of the risks to bats from wind power generating facilities have driven radical changes to North American bat conservation. Over the last decade, formerly common species such as the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) and hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) have experienced unprecedented mortality rates and are now facing non-trivial extinction risk.

In response to this change, federal land management agencies such as the US National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management and state wildlife management agencies such as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Fish and Game have invested in collaborative, interagency bat monitoring to close the gap in information about bat welfare and to inform bat conservation strategies.
Bats are notoriously difficult to track and study and there remains a paucity of fundamental information about the seasonal patterns of bat activity and habitat use and population distributions and abundances. Moreover, because bats are so highly mobile and difficult to survey (e.g., nocturnal flight), this information needs to be contextualized at broad regional (e.g., 10,000 km2) and range-wide extents. Delimiting bat populations at local scales (e.g., 100 km2) is very difficult and it is not clear, for example, how a declining trend in local (e.g., a small park unit) patterns of bat activity or relative abundance should be interpreted without broader context.

In recognition of these challenges, a plan for coordinated continental-scale monitoring of bats, the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) was developed (Loeb et al. 2015). The centerpiece of the plan is the use of a spatially-balanced randomized master sample of grid-cell sample units from a grid-based sampling frame to provide the architecture for collaboration and the statistical foundation for making inferences about bat populations across broad regions and entire bat geographic ranges. The plan outlines general goals, survey design, and field methods for both summertime acoustic surveys of bats as well as winter and summer counts of bats in hibernacula and maternity colonies but it does not provide field-level protocol and standard operating procedures for consistent and efficient implementation.

This regional protocol provides these details for one component of NABat, the deployment of stationary acoustic detectors to record bats during summer, as is called for by the NABat plan. This protocol was written specifically to provide guidance and consistency across the Pacific Northwestern US (N. California [California Department of Fish and Wildlife Northern Region], Idaho, Washington, and Oregon; US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 1 and portion of Region 8 [in Northern California and Klamath Basin]; US Forest Service Region 6 and portions of Regions 1 and 5 in Idaho; and the Upper Columbia Basin, North Coast Cascades, and Klamath Networks of the National Park Service). This region has internal cohesion, sharing a distinct bat faunal assemblage of 15 species (with several additional species occurring on the southern periphery of the region), and a long history of collaborative bat monitoring beginning with the interagency Bat Grid Program which operated from 2003-2010 across Oregon and Washington (US Forest Service Region 6).

This protocol will be coordinated and implemented by the Northwestern Bat Hub, on behalf of the collective interagency partnership. The Northwestern Bat Hub is housed on the Oregon State University-Cascades campus and leverages pooled partner funds and resources to maintain a small staff that coordinates and conducts monitoring, provides training and oversight, ensures high-quality data quality and control, and analyzes data and reports on results.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title North American Bat Monitoring Program regional protocol for surveying with stationary deployments of echolocation recording devices: Narrative version 1.0, Pacific Northwestern US
Authors Rogelio M. Rodriguez, Thomas J. Rodhouse, Jenny Barnett, Kathryn Irvine, Katharine M. Banner, Jeff Lonneker, Patricia C. Ormsbee
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Natural Resource Report
Series Number NPS/UCBN/NRR—2019/1975
Index ID 70206676
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center