Inventory & Monitoring


The best way to monitor the trends in the bat populations in Western Canada is through systematic and regular inventory and monitoring exercises—gathering robust data that can be compared to over seasons and years.  

 

   

NABat:

North America Bat Monitoring Project- North America Unites to Systematically Document Bat Populations

The North American Bat Monitoring Program is made up of a network of community partners and biologists who gather monitoring information to assess changes in bat populations using standardized monitoring protocols.  The purpose of the program is to create a continental-wide program to monitor bats at local and range-wide scales that will provide reliable data to promote effective conservation and long-term viability of bat populations across the continent. 

The Western Bat Conservation Program of WCS Canada implements the North American Bat Monitoring Program in BC through engagement of independent and government biologists from across the province to produce large-scale assessments every five years on species diversity and distribution, as well as status and trends of bat populations. Dr. Cori Lausen is a member if the core planning team and played an instrumental role in the development of the program.

For more detailed description on the International NABAT monitoring program please visit the detailed website here.


British Columbia 2019 NABat Statistics:

BatCaver:

The Batcaver program is a unique collaboration between bat researchers and cave enthusiasts in Western Canada.  It turns out bats and people who like caves have a lot in common!

 

The mission of the WCS Canada BatCaver Program is to identify and study hibernation sites for bats in Western Canada, using the resources of cavers and the public to expand our knowledge.  It also creates a unique opportunity to educate cavers on bats in general, and on White-nose syndrome; how it is spread and how to decontaminate caver gear to prevent spreading.

While research in western Canada is limited, we do know that long-term hibernating species tend to prefer quiet locations deep in caves and mines with high humidity and temperatures that approach but do not go below freezing.   The longest-duration hibernators are thought to be the Little Brown myotis, Long-legged myotis, Northern Long-eared myotis, Western Long-eared myotis, Yuma myotis and the Big Brown Bat.  Due to the nature of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, long duration hibernators and those using high humidity caves will be most vulnerable to the disease. Some western bat species hibernate for shorter periods and may prove resistant to WNS.

The BatCaver program is a partnership between bat researchers and cavers in western Canada to gain more insight into the use of our caves and mines by bats, particularly in winter when they are most at risk of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease of hibernating bats.  Little research has been undertaken regarding cave bat ecology in BC and Alberta.  The goal of this program is to expand our knowledge by placing remote bat detectors and climate loggers in caves and mines and taking fungal samples, with the assistance of the caving community.  Since the introduction of WNS into eastern North America, bat populations are being decimated while the fungus that causes the disease is spreading westward.  It is imperative that we learn as much as we can about the wintering ecology of our cave bats in BC and Alberta in order to develop mitigation or prevention strategies for the disease.  BC is host to the highest diversity of bats in Canada, with at least 16 species.  Of these, at least half are thought to be vulnerable to WNS due to their tendency to hibernate in caves and mines.  Two of our western bat species have recently been reclassified as endangered due to the high mortalities occurring in eastern Canadian hibernacula.

For more information, please visit the BatCaver website, here.

Monitoring Sentinel Roosts:

In conjunction with ongoing NABat and BatCaver inventory and monitoring activities, a long-term sentinel roost monitoring project has been underway for several years, establishing baseline bat diversity and relative abundance at critical sentinel roosts in Western Canada prior to the arrival of white-nose syndrome (WNS).

 

We conduct bat capture, acoustic, or guano surveys as needed in areas where species identifications are uncertain, where WNS is suspected, or where sentinel monitoring will enable abundance estimates and disease surveillance.  When significant bat hibernacula have been located, species identification may need to be verified. If this cannot be done with guano or acoustics, then some mistnet capture may be warranted to morphologically or genetically confirm species.

 

Private landowners can also participate in helping to locate bat hibernacula by reporting overwintering bats in buildings. For this aspect of our program, we are working closely with the BC Community Bat Program and the Alberta Community Bat Program. In spring, when bats are emerging from hibernacula, they are most likely to carry Pd spores if they have roosted in a Pd-infected hibernation area. Therefore, surveillance for WNS is best conducted during this time with bat capture, swab sampling, or guano collection.

To document whether bats are surviving hibernation and returning to sentinel roosts, at some sites we individually mark bats for future identification. This is done through strategic and safe application of either split-ring wing bands, or PIT-tags.


 

Photo Credits: Header photo- Cory Olson; Mosiac- Cori Lausen; BatCaver Program, Cori Lausen; NABat Project- Heather Gates; BatCaver Project- Cori Lausen;  Sentinel Roost Project- Heather Gates

©2019-2020 Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS, the "W" logo, WE STAND FOR WILDLIFE, I STAND FOR WILDLIFE, and STAND FOR WILDLIFE are service marks of Wildlife Conservation Society.

Contact Information
Address: Western Canada Bat Conservation Program; Kaslo, British Columbia | wcsbats@wcs.org |