Ohio Mobile Bat Acoustic Surveys
From 2011 to 2020, 30-mile route surveys have been conducted by staff at the Division of Wildlife and volunteers to monitor changes in bat populations. These surveys began after White-nose Syndrome, WNS, was discovered in a hibernaculum in southern Ohio. The goal of this project was to monitor the bats in Ohio and the potential effects that WNS may be having on them. In 2021, the mobile acoustic survey program was redesigned to follow the standards of the North American Bat Monitoring Network (NAbat) protocol. NAbat is a continent-wide effort that is seeking to standardize several types of bat surveys so that data can be shared and aggregated at regional levels.
As the primary predator of night-flying insects, bats are an important component of the ecosystem. Globally, they save the agricultural industry billions of dollars each year due to lower pesticide loads being needed and fewer crops lost to insect pests. Most states have shown a 30-90 percent decline in their winter bat populations after WNS became established; Ohio has seen similar trends with declines of 91% and 99% in what were formerly the two largest hibernacula in the state. The acoustic project is designed to determine if the declines in the winter are consistent in the summer populations.
Overall, there is evidence from this project that overall bat abundance has declined from 2011 to 2020, likely as a result of White-nose Syndrome and other factors such as habitat loss. Please download the latest annual report for more details about the project protocol and results.
If you have any questions regarding the acoustic surveys or would like to volunteer, please contact Eileen Wyza at Eileen.Wyza@dnr.ohio.gov.