OverviewMissouri National Recreational River is comprised of 69,124 acres along the Missouri River in South Dakota and Nebraska. Managed by multiple state and federal agencies, this park is divided into a 39-mile upper reach and a 59-mile lower reach. Riparian forest, wooded uplands, and prairie remnants provide good bat foraging and roosting habitat. Areas with lots of large trees and surface water have high bat activity at Missouri National Recreational River. Some bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes each night making them important for insect control in croplands along the river.
The Northern Great Plains Inventory & Monitoring Network monitors bats to detect long-term trends in bat populations at the park. Twenty-two acoustic recording stations and five mobile survey routes were established in 2014–2015 in the 39- and 59-mile reaches for long-term bat monitoring at Missouri National Recreational River. Acoustic recorders detect the unique ultrasonic calls bats use for echolocation. Several of the monitoring stations were on state and private land and we share results with these network partners. There were 256,687 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.