NORTH AMERICAN BAT MONITORING PROGRAM
The NABat program is a large, international research program involving many partners from Alaska though to Mexico. A 10-km by 10-km grid was developed that covered the continent and a number of grid cells were randomly selected. Supporting partners are able to participate in the NABat project by taking on the monitoring responsibilities in one of the randomly selected grid cells. The Cumberland Bat Project was asked by the BC Ministry of Environment to take on the monitoring responsibilities for the Comox grid cell with is roughly centered just east of Comox Lake.
This monitoring program takes place annually in the last week of June each year, for at least five years. 2021 will be Year 4. During this week, four automatic recording units (ARUs) are deployed at four participating landowners’ properties, one in each quadrant of the grid cell. The ARUs are special ultrasonic microphones connected to specialized data loggers that automatically turn on at sunset and record all bat echolocation calls in the vicinity all night. The acoustic data is used to determine which species of bat made the call and the relative abundance of bat species in the area over time. We are grateful to the participating landowners who allow us to deploy the ARUs on their properties including the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association, Jen Dykstra/Kyle Hansen, Lorna White and Kris Oetter.
The data from the ARU deployments is supplemented by ultrasonic acoustic recordings made by attaching a specialized microphone to the roof of a vehicle and driving a predetermined route through the grid cell at night (driving transect). The parameters around how this is done are highly standardized and repeatable continent-wide. Two driving transects are completed during the last week of June.
Our participation in this project is completed entirely by volunteers. However, the specialized equipment required is kindly loaned to us by the BC Ministry of Environment. For more information about the NABat program, please see its website.