Researcher Tanya Luszcz sets up a bat detector in the Okanagan Valley. Public assistance to identify bat roosts is being sought.

Researcher Tanya Luszcz sets up a bat detector in the Okanagan Valley. Public assistance to identify bat roosts is being sought.

Researchers monitor B.C. bat population

For information, go to www.bcbats or contact okanagan@bcbats.ca or 1-855-922-2287.

Researchers are monitoring bat populations in B.C. using bat detectors as part of the North American Bat Monitoring Program.

This program aims to monitor bat species distributions and relative abundance over time. Part of the focus is on white nose syndrome, which has decimated bat populations in the eastern part of the continent, and is expected to arrive in B.C. soon.

“By monitoring populations this year, we will have baseline data before white nose syndrome reaches our province, if it hasn’t already” said Cori Lausen, bat specialist with the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada.

“This annual monitoring will better allow us to understand the impact of this disease as it spreads to our bats in B.C.”

The program samples 10 kilometre areas using acoustic devices that record the echolocation calls of bats. Bat detectors record the bat calls and the bat species can be identified using special software. In addition, driving transects are conducted using a microphone attached to the roof of a car.

“It’s our form of a bat mobile” said Juliet Craig, who is co-ordinating NABat in B.C.

“We drive at 30 kilometres an hour down a road in one direction and listen in on the echolocation calls through the bat detector, which brings them down to a frequency we can hear. Then it’s like opening a present to find out which species were flying by.”

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the Columbia Basin Trust, the team will sample regions throughout B.C. over the next five summers.

“It is exciting to be doing surveys here since the Okanagan has the highest diversity of bat species in Canada. Yet we still know so little about local bat populations,” said biologist Tanya Luszcz, who is monitoring bats in the Okanagan,

“We also would really appreciate help from the public in identifying bat roosts and establishing bat counts at roost sites throughout the Okanagan.”

For information, go to www.bcbats or contact okanagan@bcbats.ca or 1-855-922-2287.