Field biologists conducting the 2021 bat survey on Fort Leavenworth identified the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), like this one caught in a mist net on post in 2017, as one of the bat species on post. Other species identified include the eastern red bat, hoary bat, silver-haired bat, evening bat and tri-colored bat. File photo by Savanna Shafer/field biologist

Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer

The 2021 results are in from a bat population survey conducted by researchers from Environmental Solutions and Innovations Inc. and the Directorate of Public Works on Fort
Leavenworth. Scientists use acoustic and mist net surveys to sample bat species present on post and identify roosting spots by species.

The research began because of a national interest in following the effects of, the often fatal, white-nose syndrome in bats. According to the National Science Foundation, the invasive fungus first emerged as a threat to bat populations in 2006.

While white-nose syndrome affects many bat species, it specifically threatens the endangered northern long-eared bat population.

Neil Bass, natural resource specialist for DPW, said white-nose syndrome irritates bats during periods of hibernation and disrupts energy levels during seasons with few food sources. When bat populations decline, the greater ecosystem in an area may favor insect populations, which consequently creates issues in agriculture and other natural resource industries.

“(The research data) gives us a really nice baseline that we can look at over time as white-nose (syndrome) impacts other species and other issues that are concerning bats as well,” Bass said. “From the forts’ perspective, we can look at this trend data and say it follows the national data to know we’re not doing anything detrimental. It also can show if we do something that benefits or is positive (for the bat population).”

He said the “snapshots” of data allow Fort Leavenworth to negotiate activities in agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should they need to demonstrate compliance with the Endangered Species Act or other laws.

“The real mission behind Natural Resources in the DoD is to keep us in compliance with natural resource laws,” Bass said.

Bass said Fort Leavenworth usually recognizes transient bat populations, meaning study samples may not fully represent the existing population’s presence. For example, he said
research has only identified one northern long-eared bat in 2002, suggesting the population was once present but more difficult to find nearly two decades later.

The acoustic surveys revealed six species present at Fort Leavenworth — the big brown bat, eastern red bat, hoary bat, silver-haired bat, evening bat and tri-colored bat.

During the mist net survey, ESI scientists captured 51 bats from four species, including the big brown bat, the eastern red bat, evening bat and tri-colored bat. ESI tracked four of the captured bats and identified two roosting spots on post.


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