Bat Monitoring Working Group Receives ‘Wings Across the Americas’ Award

The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) working group was hosted by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville, Tenn., to design a program for coordinated bat monitoring across North America. Front row: (L to R) Tushar Kansal, Laura Ellison, Susan Loeb, Tom Rodhouse, Kathi Irvine, Subhash Lele, Robin Russell, Cori Lausen. Back Row: (L to R) Tom Ingersoll, John Reichard, Matthew Clement, Tom Stanley, Wayne Thogmartin, Doug Johnson,Tom Hallam , Patrick Field, and John Sauer.

Bat conservation researchers and their partners associated with a NIMBioS Working Group were recognized yesterday with the U.S. Forest Service Wings Across the Americas Research Award for their contributions to the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat).

The award was accepted on behalf of the US Geological Survey contributions to NABat by Anne Kinsinger, USGS associate director for Ecosystems, at the North American Wildlife Resources Conference in Omaha, NE.  USGS partners also recognized were the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bat Conservation International, Bat Conservation Trust, Canadian Wildlife Service, University of California, University of Alberta and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“Research on bats is important not only because they are vital to the well-being of ecosystems, but also it is in the best interest of the economy due to the importance of bats for pest control and pollination of native and agricultural plants,” Kinsinger said.

Wings Across the Americas is an international program of the U.S. Forest Service that works with a wide range of partners here in the United States and overseas to conserve habitats and populations of birds, bats, butterflies and dragonflies. The award recognizes outstanding conservation work by U.S. Forest Service and partner agencies.

The novelty of the NABat program is a vision for collaborative monitoring of an imperiled species group with a sound statistical underpinning allowing for species distribution modeling across broad geographic regions. Researchers provide expertise on statistical survey design, statistical analysis of bat acoustic and colony count data and database development informed by experience with many wildlife species such as bats, birds and amphibians.

NABat was developed in conjunction with specialists from other agencies, universities and NGOs in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico in response to growing concerns over threats to bats from continuing and emerging stressors including habitat loss and fragmentation, white-nose syndrome, wind energy development and climate change.  There are currently no national programs to monitor and track bat populations in North America, and NABat seeks to assist in development of such programs that will provide managers and policy makers with the information they need to effectively manage bat populations, detect early warning signs of population declines and estimate extinction risk.

Efforts to date include four workshops and discussions supported by NIMBioS and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives National Council to develop a national monitoring program. The workshops were attended by scientists and researchers from multiple agencies including FWS, USGS, USFS, NPS, University of Calgary and the Canadian Wildlife Service.  The framework for NABat, “A Plan for a North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat)” will be published in May 2015.


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