Bat Projects in Parks: Cape Cod National Seashore

Summary

Fall Migration, Swarming, and Hibernation Ecology of Northern Long-eared Bats at Cape Cod National Seashore, and Implication for Ameliorating Impacts of White-nose Syndrome

PI: Robert Cook

This project builds on work funded in FY14 and FY15 and conducted in summer 2015 and 2016, through a CESU agreement with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Foresty. This recently completed field work provided the first ever summer surveys of bats at Cape Cod National Seashore (CACO) and documented the occurrence of eight bat species. The summer surveys showed that the federally endangered Northern Long-eared Bat (NLEB), once the most common summer bat on Cape Cod, continue to inhabit CACO and surrounding areas, despite widespread severe declines in inland portions of their range. This proposal will complement the summer surveys by investigating fall and winter habitat use, movements, and selection of roost sites and will provide a critical link to understanding why NLEB are present at apparently higher numbers than elsewhere in their range.

With the proposed work, we seek to identify fall and winter roosts of NLEB on Cape Cod and document the location and characteristics of these sites. In summer 2015 and 2016, we found NLEB frequently roosting in human structures, which may also provide unique conditions for winter hibernation that reduce exposure or vulnerability to WNS.

Goals

1. Identify areas of peak activity and swarming sites of NLEB during the fall active season at CACO. Document habitat, landscape, physical features, and indices of relative abundance.
2. Estimate patterns and timing of migration of bats captured on CACO.
3. Identify winter roosts (hibernacula) used by NLEB captured at CACO. Characterize these sites in terms of colony size and species composition, habitat type, physical and thermal features, and assess bat use and potential for exposure and transmission of WNS.
4. Assess Pd-status, WNS-status, and body condition of bats overwintering on Cape Cod.

Field work for this project is scheduled to begin in late summer 2017 and will sample bats in late summer - fall of 2017 and 2018.