Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program

Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program

Scientific American reported in December that more than one million bats have been killed by the deadly fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) since the condition first turned up in 2006. Bat populations are generally susceptible to decline because of low reproductive rates, and many species congregate at a limited number of locations during critical stages of their natural history cycle (i.e. hibernacula and maternity colonies). Lack of information on basic ecology and trends is one of the greatest limitations to conservation of bat species.

Beaver Creek Reserve Citizen Science Center volunteers assist the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with their Acoustic Bat Monitoring Program. Bat volunteers borrow AnaBat detection systems, dubbed the "Bat Monitoring Kit," for up to three nights to conduct bat surveys of local parks, neighborhoods, lakes and trails. The AnaBat detector is attached to a GPS-enabled personal digital assistant. The detector picks up the echolocation calls emitted by bats and translates it to a frequency the human ear can hear. Each detection system records information about phenology and species presence. Data is entered into the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program database, with the long-term scope of this project to compile information about phenology, species presence, migration timing vs. residence, and trends of the bat species in Wisconsin.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jeanette Kelly, Citizen Science Center Director
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Beaver Creek (Wisc.) Reserve Citizen Science Center
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: Wisconsin -
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: 1-3 hours

    Volunteers attend a training workshop during the spring where they learn how to use an AnaBat detector to record bat calls. Sometimes volunteers survey areas of their choice and sometimes they are asked to survey specific sites. Once a volunteer selects a site to survey, they agree to survey that site three times during the season, once in April/May, once in June/July and once in August/September.

    Each survey lasts up to 3 hours (a minimum of 1 hour) and can only be conducted on nights when the daytime temperature is above 12 degrees Celsius, there is no precipitation, and the wind speed is less than 48 kilometers per hour. Surveys begin a half hour after sunset. Bat monitoring volunteers of all ages are welcome to participate. Volunteers younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

    For more information, visit the program's home page or contact Jeanette Kelly, director of the Beaver Creek Reserve Citizen Science Center,

See more projects in WisconsinFreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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