Badlands National Park is a 244,000-acre park in southwestern South Dakota that conserves the rugged badlands topography, rich fossil beds, and a large expanse of mixed-grass prairie. Surface water is scarce at the park, but there is bat foraging and drinking habitat at Sage Creek, a sediment-laden drainage, as well as at multiple bison stock ponds. The highly eroded badlands provide crevices that are used as roosting habitat for bats. The unique physiographic environment of the park supports a bat community very different from other parks in the Northern Great Plains Network.
The Northern Great Plains Inventory & Monitoring Network monitors bats to detect long-term trends in bat populations at the park. Twelve stationary recording stations and six mobile recording routes were established in 2014 in three areas of Badlands National Park for long-term bat monitoring: Sage Creek Road, Conata Basin, and Cedar Pass areas. Acoustic recorders detect the unique ultrasonic calls bats use for echolocation. There were 293,639 bat call recordings from stations across all survey nights from 2014–2017. The data were analyzed through specialized software programs that make preliminary identifications of the bat species based on individual call characteristics, such as frequency and shape. Some bat species make calls that are similar to other species, which is why researchers with special expertise review the calls and make the final species determinations.