By Trina Morris
August 2010: A small army of bat scientists and enthusiasts gathered at Fort Mountain State Park last month to provide a needed snapshot of the area’s bat populations.
The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s 9th annual Bat Blitz drew more than 100 biologists, researchers, managers and students to the park near Chatsworth. The volunteers from 34 agencies, corporations, universities and organizations and 19 states—from Texas to Oregon to Wisconsin—gave their time and shared survey equipment for a landscape-scale survey of bats in Chattahoochee National Forest and adjacent state and federal lands, including the state park and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Carters Lake.
Workers caught 292 bats, two of them federally endangered gray bats.
The event began with an education night attended by nearly 100 people. Bat Conservation International, Southeastern Cave Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Habitat for Bats and others provided displays and activities for children, from an echolocation game to a mist-netting and Anabat demonstration. Vicky Smith of A-Z Animals gave a general bat presentation and Weyerhaeuser’s Darren Miller, president of the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, discussed bat conservation in Georgia.
Over the next three nights of sampling, nearly 300 bats representing nine species were captured. The numbers: 89 northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), 73 red bats (Lasiurus borealis), 65 tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus), 41 big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), nine little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), five small-footed myotis (Myotis lebieii—a state species of concern), seven evening bats (Nycticeius humeralis), one hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) and the two gray bats (Myotis grisescens).
Genetics samples taken from each bat will go to the American Museum of Natural History. Fecal samples were collected for dietary analysis. Occurrence data will be used in making management decisions and will also provide baseline data in the face of the white-nose syndrome threat.
Trina Morris is a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.
A small army of bat scientists and enthusiasts gathered at Fort Mountain State Park last month to provide a needed snapshot of the area’s bat populations.