Habitat Utilization of Bats at Fire Island National Seashore and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
PI: Lindsay Ries
The FY16 white-nose syndrome (WNS) funding has been important for Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) and other NPS sites on Long Island in hiring staff to assist the Wildlife Biologist with inventorying and monitoring bats at each site (particularly federally listed species), and to communicate more about the importance of bats and bat conservation to the public.
There were three main objectives of the bat acoustic monitoring and education efforts in 2016:
1) Conduct acoustic monitoring at the William Floyd Estate and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site throughout the summer and fall, for species richness and an index of bat activity (particularly for northern-long eared bats). The William Floyd Estate (a unit of FIIS) and SAHI are two NPS sites on Long Island with detections of northern long-eared bats (MYSE) in 2014 and 2015 in relatively high numbers, both in mist nets and acoustically. The data so far suggests that these sites – and Long Island in general – may host a relatively high abundance of MYSE and be providing a refuge from disease. This could be critical to the recovery of its populations on the mainland. WNS-susceptible bats are present with little impacts from the disease even though WNS was documented on Long Island in 2010. In 2016, acoustic detectors (Pettersson D500x) were placed in suitable habitat for MYSE (confirmed in 2015) from July through December 2, 2016. Acoustic data is still being collected but has been analyzed throughout the season utilizing Sonobat software. A final report will be ready by April 2017.
2) Expand acoustic surveys to different habitat types within FIIS and SAHI to understand species richness, habitat use, and distribution of bats across the landscape. FIIS staff acoustically surveyed 7 sites across Fire Island for bats throughout the summer, for a minimum of 4 nights at each location (28 nights total). In addition, acoustic surveys were conducted at the William Floyd Estate and SAHI (in addition to sites referenced in #1; 8 nights total). Several habitat types within each site were selected to increase the detectability of bat species. Acoustic data has been collected and analyzed throughout the season utilizing Sonobat software. However, the data will be analyzed further (to account for landscape patterns) and will be available in a final report by April 2017.
3) Continue to promote bat-related education through events/programs, including the Project EduBat educational trunk to Long Island teachers through Teacher Workshops. FIIS staff developed/implemented bat-conservation programs for the FIIS Interpretive Division, as well as promoted a campaign for bats (with local events and social media posts) during National Bat Week in 2016. In addition, we continued to promote the Project EduBat trunk, which was purchased with FY15 funds. FIIS staff attended a well-attended Educator’s Open House on Nov. 8, 2016. FIIS staff also attended the Gateway National Recreation Area’s Bioblitzes at Jamaica Bay (June 10-11) and Sandy Hook (Sept. 23-24). We conducted acoustic surveys for bats (as part of the data gathering of the Bioblitz) as well as held informal educational programs to the public and Bioblitz participants about bats.