Tracking the Decline of Bats in North America
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