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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Tracking the Impacts of Bat White-nose Syndrome in Wisconsin with Citizen Scientists

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AUTHORS: Heather M. Kaarakka, J. Paul White, Andrew F. Badje, Jennifer A. Redell, Jill L. Rosenberg - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: White-nose syndrome (WNS), a deadly disease found in bats, arrived in eastern North America in 2006. The disease quickly caused substantial mortalities in bat populations in many northeastern states before baseline inventories of bat populations were collected. Assessing full impacts of WNS requires population counts from underground hibernacula where the disease causes mortality, as well as inventories of bat activity and population levels on the summer landscape. Summer habitat is critical for bat reproduction and is the landscape where bats provide important ecological services such as insect control. In preparation for the arrival of WNS, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) partnered with citizen-scientists to establish baseline data on bats across the state. The WDNR’s Wisconsin Bat Program (WBP) has been able to collect information using ultrasonic acoustic monitoring and summer roost surveys completed by volunteers. Since 2007, over 4,000 mobile acoustic surveys have been submitted from all 72 counties in the state, and emergence surveys at known summer bat roosts of three different species have been completed at over 200 sites. These surveys have established pre-WNS population data, as well as information on distribution, relative abundance, and roosting and foraging habitat for all eight bat species found in Wisconsin, and have helped fill voids in information for bats identified in WDNR’s Wildlife Action Plan. After WNS first appeared in Wisconsin in 2014, both acoustic and summer roost surveys have shown declines in abundance and activity, particularly of the highly-affected little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Continued citizen-based monitoring using both survey techniques will help determine local management efforts, and identify bats surviving WNS infection which will be important for future conservation of species rapidly disappearing from the disease.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer