Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Nebraska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Nebraska Project


Bat Conservation and Recovery in Nebraska and Wyoming

February 2019 - January 2023


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • 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. Although 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 affect 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. Thirty-five monitoring areas were established 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 a growing number of volunteers (citizen scientists); we are excited by our successes in 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 has been 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.