Bat Conservation and Recovery in Nebraska and Wyoming
February 2019 - January 2022
- Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
There are mounting concerns for North American bats due to continuing and emerging threats from disease, habitat loss, fragmentation, and wind-energy development. Though these threats are likely to increase in severity, there is an opportunity to improve our knowledge of bat occurrence and habitat use, to learn how landscape changes impact local bat populations, and to establish regional monitoring that can inform local and national resource management decisions. This is especially true across Nebraska, which encapsulates edges of several bat species’ ranges.
We implemented the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) in Nebraska to survey statewide bat species distributions and activity. We established 35 monitoring areas across the state to sample with bat acoustic detectors each year, comprising about 120 sites, and involving about 100 landowners. Much of these data are collected by volunteers (citizen scientists); we held workshops and training sessions to teach these novice scientists how to operate survey equipment. We are excited by our successes for building an extensive and reliable citizen science network for bat monitoring.
Thus far, we have documented 12 bat species during our monitoring efforts, including some that have experienced dramatic population declines in other parts of the country from the invasive fungal disease that causes white-nose syndrome. Some species we have found statewide, whereas we detected other species only in certain areas of Nebraska. Overall bat activity is generally greatest in eastern parts of the state, and least in central and southwestern parts of the state, perhaps an effect of fewer available tree roosts. We will continue to sample these areas for evidence of activity changes and range expansions by these bat species.