Presentation Title

Preliminary Acoustic Surveys of Bats in Portland’s Urban Parks

Start Date

February 2018

End Date

February 2018

Abstract

Bats are a diverse group of animals that serve important roles in the ecosystem; they contribute to pollination and seed dispersal, and are the principal predators of night-flying insects. Certain bat species are sensitive to habitat changes and are used as indicators of ecosystem integrity, but others are highly adaptable, and frequently observed in urban environments. Several bat species and populations in North America are under threat from White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which has been characterized as the largest wildlife epidemic in the past century. WNS was detected in Western states for the first time in 2016, highlighting the need for studies on bat populations in this region. We conducted preliminary acoustic surveys of bats in parks around Portland, OR during late summer 2017. We surveyed many of the sites described in a report by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services in 2008, which had the following parameters: within 0.25 miles of water, with some forest structure, and easily accessible. We used a Pettersson’s M500 microphone to detect ultrasonic bat calls, and then ran three of the surveys through Sonobat’s automatic classification. Sonobat identified three bat species with high confidence: Eptesicus fuscus (big brown bats) at Laurelhurst Park and Kelly Point Park, Lasionycteris noctivigans (silver-haired bat) at Kelly Point Park, and Myotis lucifigus (little brown bat) at Pier Park. These represent significant differences in species found in the 2008 report. Future work will focus on surveying bats at more locations, to determine ecological constraints on species occurrences.

Subjects

Animal ecology, Conservation biology, Wildlife biology

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Preliminary Acoustic Surveys of Bats in Portland’s Urban Parks

Bats are a diverse group of animals that serve important roles in the ecosystem; they contribute to pollination and seed dispersal, and are the principal predators of night-flying insects. Certain bat species are sensitive to habitat changes and are used as indicators of ecosystem integrity, but others are highly adaptable, and frequently observed in urban environments. Several bat species and populations in North America are under threat from White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which has been characterized as the largest wildlife epidemic in the past century. WNS was detected in Western states for the first time in 2016, highlighting the need for studies on bat populations in this region. We conducted preliminary acoustic surveys of bats in parks around Portland, OR during late summer 2017. We surveyed many of the sites described in a report by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services in 2008, which had the following parameters: within 0.25 miles of water, with some forest structure, and easily accessible. We used a Pettersson’s M500 microphone to detect ultrasonic bat calls, and then ran three of the surveys through Sonobat’s automatic classification. Sonobat identified three bat species with high confidence: Eptesicus fuscus (big brown bats) at Laurelhurst Park and Kelly Point Park, Lasionycteris noctivigans (silver-haired bat) at Kelly Point Park, and Myotis lucifigus (little brown bat) at Pier Park. These represent significant differences in species found in the 2008 report. Future work will focus on surveying bats at more locations, to determine ecological constraints on species occurrences.