Acoustic Bat Monitoring in the Preserve
The Wisconsin Citizen-based acoustic bat monitoring project is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, under direction of J. Paul White, Coservation Biologist of their Natural Heritage Conservation program.
Unpaid volunteers in Wisconsin have been trained to use a GPS-linked echolocation monitoring device, on loan at agreed upon times to employ in the field. The acoustic data is recorded at the GPS-identified site where the bat emitted its ultrasonic signals to detect insects to chase and devour. These data are GPS-located for analysis by the WDNR when the loaned device is returned. The resulting Google-quality map is returned to the submitting ”citizen scientist”, with the route taken identified by species-characteristic ultrasonic patterns at precisely identified GPS locations. This project is providing baseline data on bat species and locations throughout Wisconsin.
Kennedy Gilchrist of the Friends and Levi Wood, who is also a UW Arboretum naturalist, have undertaken two surveys/month during summertime in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. After their monitoring project had been approved by Preserve staff and the University Police, by protocol on the night of proposed monitoring, they notify the University Police of their intended route and time (usually beginning at dusk and lasting one to three hours). Thunder and/or lightning terminate a survey, as can occasional problems with making the monitoring device work properly. Each survey has had different results, but overall we have been impressed with the apparently low numbers of the three bat species detected in the western part of the Preserve (Little Brown, Big Brown and Red bats).
We invite others to join us in the coming survey season in 2017 to provide more complete coverage and perhaps additional routes in the Preserve. Please contact Kennedy Gilchrist.