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.
GoalsThis 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 US 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.
The first stage acoustically sampled the entire state to better define the geographic distribution of the species. We completed this sampling in the August of 2015. In part, two of the projects five locations within NLEB’s Nebraska range were intensively sampled to better determine stand-level habitat usage. Between May and August of 2016, we deployed 46 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. A UCARE student, Catherine Berrick, later analyzed this data to determine nightly activity patterns of NLEBs, which can provide guidance to federal survey protocols.