In Canada, almost all bat species are under threat due to factors like habitat loss, pesticides, and white-nose syndrome.
Given the catastrophic decline in bat species, the Appalachian Corridor developed a project with Canada’s federal Habitat Stewardship Program to confirm the presence of bats on key parts of their 3,500 km2 territory of action, and then prioritize their conservation efforts.
As part of this project, they partnered with Conservation Chauve-Souris des Cantons-de-l’Est (CCSCE or Eastern Townships Bat Conservation) to assist with data collection, and applied for a Wildlife Acoustics Scientific Product Grant.
From June to September 2019, Appalachian Corridor carried out ecological surveys, including a bat inventory, on ten private properties of high ecological importance on its territory. They aimed to assess the presence of different bat species, maternity roost locations or hibernacula.
Two types of inventories were conducted during the summer: mobile inventories and fixed inventories. For the mobile inventories, the listening routes were carried out on 8 to 10 km transects in a sector representing the habitat of bats.
Two Echo Meter Touch Pro 2 were enabled to record bat calls for mobile inventories.
Fixed inventories were also carried out on 10 properties bordering the listening routes. A SM4BAT FS Song Meter was used for a minimum of seven nights on each property.
Additionally, during October 2019 and April to May 2020, the team started the follow up on four possible hibernacula. The potential hibernacula were selected based on historical or opportunistic observations. While no one entered the hibernacula to avoid disturbing the bats, signs of presence were looked for at entrances.
A Song Meter SM4BAT FS or a Song Meter SM3BAT was used in Sunset to sunrise mode in front of each hibernacula.
Analysis of the calls was performed using Kaleidoscope software.
The 2019 inventories confirmed the presence of seven species in the territory of Appalachian Corridor. This included:
Of the seven species detected, the Red Bat, the Silver-haired Bat and the Hoary Bat are species likely to be designated as threatened or vulnerable in Quebec (MFFP, 2018).
Additionally, the hibernacula inventories confirmed the presence of Hoary Bats, Big Brown Bats and Silver-haired Bats.
The Northern Long-eared Bat has been assessed by COSEWIC and has been appended to the list of endangered species governed by the Species at Risk Act of Canada.
It is now also possible to make owners aware by showing them data collected directly in their sector. Since many farms and woodlots border the study areas, the results and conservation recommendations were presented to citizens to encourage the protection of these species.
Research on the rest of the territory will be carried out to find other potential sites. An invitation has been sent to locals via the Appalachian Corridor bulletin to help identify other potential hibernacula in the territory.