with marne titchenell
Learn about the Ohio Bat Roost Monitoring Project in this SENR Picks.
Ohio Bat Roost Monitoring - a project of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
SENR: What is the bat roost monitoring project?
The Ohio Bat Roost Monitoring Project is a citizen science project run by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. It's goal is to collect data on the location of maternity bat roosts and the size of those roosts. A maternity bat roost is a group of females that have gathered together to birth and raise their pups. The roosts may be in hollows or under loose bark of dead or live trees. Maternity roosts may also be in bat houses, or man-made structures like barns, under bridges, or in homes. Ohio has 10 species of bats, seven of which form maternity colonies.
SENR: Why bats and why are these monitoring programs important?
Not only are bats integral parts of many ecosystems, they are also valuable to the economy. Bats are the number one predators of night-flying insects, including those insects that can be pests and cause damage to forests and agricultural crops. In addition, bat populations are significantly threatened by habitat loss, roost disturbance, disease, and pressures from invasive species, predation, and pesticides. White-nose syndrome is a disease causing declines in several of the bat species that form maternity roosts. Any information on these maternity roosts can provide important data on current reproductive populations. Citizen science projects can be quite powerful in their ability to collect very vital information.
SENR: How can people/citizens find out more about this project and become involved?
The best way to get involved is to keep eyes and ears open for possibly bat roosts - “ old barns, man-made bat houses, or large trees with hollows or loose bark are good examples. Bats leave roosts at sunset. They can be identified by their rapid wing beats and acrobatic flight patterns, which are very different from a bird's flight. The protocol for the Ohio Bat Roost Monitoring Project has more information to help with roost ID. In addition, Sarah Stankavich, a biologist with the ODNR, Division of Wildlife in charge of the project, may be able to provide the location of a roost that needs monitoring. Contact her at Sarah.Stankavich@dnr.state.oh.us.
SENR: Anything you might want to share with our readers or highlight with regard to how citizen science has increased our awareness / knowledge of bat populations?
This project is still in its infancy, but important information about Ohio's roosting bats has already been collected. Bats return to the same roost site year after year, therefore simply locating a site is a meaningful accomplishment. In 2019, 27 roost sites across Ohio were monitored, eight of which had over 100 bats. At one roost in NE Ohio, 252 bat were counted in mid-July, which was more than double the number of bats counted at the same location in June. It is these findings - data that shows bats successfully reproducing during a time when their populations are in peril - that highlight the importance of the project.
Marne Titchenell is the Extension Wildlife Program Specialist, with the School of Environment and Natural Resources, within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Marne received her B.S. and M.S. in wildlife management and forestry from The Ohio State University. For her M.S. she studied the response of bat populations to harvests in oak-hickory forests in southern Ohio. Her work with bats continues in her current position, where she helped to establish the Ohio Bat Working Group, co-authored the Ohio Bat Conservation Plan, and provides public and professionals education on bat ecology and conservation. She also works to provide a variety of educational programs, workshops, conferences, and publications centered on wildlife ecology and biology, habitat management for wildlife, and managing nuisance wildlife species.
Posted on June 24, 2020