Range and Habitat Usage of Northern Long-Eared Bats in Nebraska

The listing of the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB) as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in spring of 2015 highlighted the need for increased understanding of the ecology of this species within Nebraska.

Goals

This project aims to evaluate distribution and habitat usage of the Northern Long-Eared bat throughout the state. This critical information will allow managers and biologists to focus future conservation efforts on areas that will have the greatest positive impact. If federal restrictions are increased in the future due to projected population declines, this work will also potentially limit intensive and costly consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to only areas where NLEB is likely to occur, i.e., our results will result in better maps of habitat and geographic range. To achieve our objectives, this project implemented a two-stage process over the course of two field seasons.

Current Status

The first stage acoustically sampled the entire state to better define the geographic distribution of the species. We completed this sampling in August of 2015 and used this data to predict occupancy of the Northern Long-Eared bat across the state and to understand the landscape variables associated with occurrence of the species. In part two of the project, I intensively sampled five locations within NLEB’s Nebraska range to determine stand-level habitat usage. Between May and August of 2016, we deployed forty-six paired bat detectors simultaneously at each of the randomly selected locations. This resulted in >1,500 recordings nights with NLEB being detected at all locations. Combined with site measurements and remotely sensed data sources, this data will provide insight into the factors that contribute to occupancy as well as detection probability of the species. The final stage of the project was a quantitative meta-analysis of northern long-eared bat roosting studies across North America. This study enabled range-wide conclusions on roost tree characteristics selected for by the Northern Long-eared Bat.

Warren recording data at a sampling location north of Rushville, NE. Photo: Catherine Berrick
Warren recording data at a sampling location north of Rushville, NE. Photo: Catherine Berrick
Technician A Aguirre deploys a bat detector in a producer's field to better understand bat use of agricultural lands. Photo: Michael Whitby.
Technician A Aguirre deploys a bat detector in a producer's field to better understand bat use of agricultural lands. Photo: Michael Whitby.
Principal Investigator(s)
-Craig R. Allen, NE CFWRU

Graduate Student(s)
-Zachary Warren, M.S. (2018)


Project Duration
May 2015- August 2018

Funding
-Nebraska Department of Roads

Project Location
Statewide Nebraska