Coleman, L.S., W.M. Ford, C.A. Dobony and E.R. Britzke. 2014. Effect of passive acoustic sampling methodology on detecting bats after declines from white nose syndrome. Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment 6:56-64
Concomitant with the emergence and spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and precipitous decline of many bat species in North America, natural resource managers need modified and/or new techniques for bat inventory and monitoring that provide robust occupancy estimates. We used Anabat acoustic detectors to determine the most efficient passive acoustic sampling design for optimizing detection probabilities of multiple bat species in a WNS-impacted environment in New York, USA. Our sampling protocol included: six acoustic stations deployed for the entire duration of monitoring as well as a 4 x 4 grid and five transects of 5-10 acoustic units that were deployed for 6-8 night sample durations. We used Program PRESENCE to determine detection probability and site occupancy estimates. Overall, the grid produced the highest detection probabilities for most species because it contained the most detectors and intercepted the greatest spatial area. However, big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) and species not impacted by WNS were detected easily regardless of sampling array. Endangered Indiana (Myotis sodalis) and little brown (M. lucifugus) and tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus) showed declines in detection probabilities over our study, potentially indicative of continued WNS-associated declines. Identification of species presence through efficient methodologies is vital for future conservation efforts as bat populations decline further due to WNS and other factors.