Bat Projects in Parks: Great Lakes Network

Summary

Monitoring, Education, and Resource Management

PI: Bill Route

The Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network (GLKN) proposed five objectives to improve and expand acoustic bat monitoring with 2016 WNS funding. First was to add 3 parks, for a total of 8, and to continue a second year of acoustic monitoring and WNS surveillance. We successfully added MISS, SACN, and INDU to the 2015 parks (VOYA, GRPO, APIS, ISRO, and SLBE). The addition of these parks increased the diversity of habitats sampled, including large river parks with potential hibernacula along rock cliffs. The result was a more than two-fold increase in sampling from 2015 that spanned over 1,800 nights at more than 200 sites at the 8 parks. Our next objective was to ensure each park was equipped and trained for implementing a protocol that will meet the minimum criteria of NABat. With 2016 funds each park received 4 recording systems, one bat technician, logistical support, and technical support from our office. We also refined and finalized our protocol and SOPs (Gruver et al., 2016a) to meet most NABat recommendations. We currently sample at a much higher intensity than required by NABat, but our data are applicable to future nation-wide analyses.

Another objective for 2016 was to institutionalize a central pathway for data management, data quality, and archival of all the data. We used results from 2015 with recommendations from parks and other scientists to write a data management SOP that includes both park and network operations. We also reviewed and finalized the 2015 data analysis report (Gruver et al. 2016b) and initiated a contract for completing the 2016 data analysis and summary. This contractor will complete the 2016 data analysis and reporting and is tasked with helping us formalize an efficient, automated data management and call identification process.

Our fourth objective was to institute training to ensure acoustic devices are consistently deployed and that park and network staff were knowledgeable on the use of identification software. In 2016 we provided hands-on training to park technicians who needed it, developed and provided training videos for setting up systems, set up a Google Drive folder for easy access to the protocol, SOPs, and field forms, and we visited parks as needed throughout the sampling season. To capitalize on the season of learning, we held a Bat Workshop in August with all park management staff and regional bat biologists to discuss and learn from each other’s issues and knowledge of acoustic monitoring surveys.

Our final objective was to submit 2015 and 2016 data to presence/absence statistical modeling and report on the results. This objective will not be fully achieved. The 2015 data has been analyzed and 2016 data will be in the correct format for presence/absence modeling. We hope to accomplish this objective in 2017 through a graduate student project and collaborations with others. Above and beyond what we proposed, parks used recording devices to inventory and monitor bat activities at park housing, old buildings, and potential hibernacula. Some parks are also extending the monitoring to spring and fall migration activities. Parks presented findings to park managers and interpretation staff and our network bat technician presented findings to a public forum in Ashland, WI and has been accepted to present a paper at the North American Society for Bat Research in San Antonio, TX. In summary the 2016 WNS funding allowed us to expand, improve, and continue our acoustic bat monitoring program on a level that could not have been accomplished otherwise. The increase in sample size and improvement of data management will significantly improve our monitoring and knowledge of bats in the upper Midwest. This data will be critical to assess any change in bat populations over time as WNS continues to spread through our area. All of this knowledge will improve how our parks are able to adapt and management in the future.

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