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Individual Highlight

Tracking the Decline of Bats in North America

Photo of A little brown bat is infected with white-nose syndrome (WNS).  Nancy Heaslip, NY Department of Environmental ConservationA little brown bat is infected with white-nose syndrome (WNS). Nancy Heaslip, NY Department of Environmental ConservationSnapshot : Though it's well known that bats in North America are declining rapidly from white-nose syndrome (WNS), wind energy development and other causes, the full extent of the decline has only been estimated. The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) provides the statistical and logistical architecture for coordinated bat monitoring to support local, regional, and range-wide inferences about trends in bat distributions and abundances in response to WNS, climate change, wind energy development, and habitat loss. Results from this program will provide managers and policy makers with the information they need on bat population trends to effectively manage bat populations, detect early warning signs of population declines, and estimate extinction risk.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Loeb, Susan C. 
Research Location : North America
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 712


Bats are the second most diverse group of mammals on earth and play a critical role in the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Bat populations have been declining for decades but recent threats such as white-nose syndrome (WNS) and wind energy development have accelerated the declines in the U.S. At least 5.5 million bats have died from WNS since 2006, but it is difficult to document the extent of these declines and their impacts on agriculture, forests, and other ecosystems because there is no coordinated program to monitor bat populations in North America. In response to this need, scientists and statisticians from several federal agencies and universities, including representatives from Canada and Mexico, developed the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat), which can be used to monitor trends in bat populations on state, federal, provincial, tribal, and private lands and provide trend data at the state, provincial, regional (e.g., Landscape Conservation Cooperative), and range-wide scales. A U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report that describes the NABat sampling frame, survey protocols, and statistical analyses is currently in production and will provide partners with the guidance they need to conduct surveys and provide data to the Bat Population Database, an online data management system designed by the U.S. Geological Survey for this and other programs.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Bat Conservation International
  • Canadian Wildlife Service
  • Department of Defense
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • USGS
  • Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada