Scotts Bluff National Monument is a 3,003-acre park in western Nebraska that conserves the namesake bluff as wells as badlands, prairie, and riparian habitats. The bluffs and the riparian forest along the North Platte River provide good foraging and roosting habitat for bats. Some bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes each night making them important for insect control in the croplands and cities that surround this urban park.
The Northern Great Plains Inventory & Monitoring Network monitors bats to detect long-term trends in bat populations at the park. Five acoustic recording stations were set up in 2015 and a sixth station was established in 2016: two in riparian forests and four in the badlands/prairie habitats. Acoustic recorders detect the unique ultrasonic calls bats use for echolocation. There were 46,860 bat call recordings from stations across all survey nights from 2015–2017. 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.