Hi, my name is Tate Ackerman and I am a rising senior studying Biology, History, and Philosophy at the University of Scranton! This past Spring I was awarded a President’s Fellowship for Summer Research to conduct research on local bat populations using both mist-netting and acoustic monitoring techniques. This project aims to tabulate the bat species that are present in Lackawanna State Park, including their numbers and distribution.
White-Nose Syndrome has caused at least five million bat casualties over the past 13 years, making it the largest epizootic outbreak ever recorded in the world. Estimates from 2016 indicated that over 95% of the bats from six of the nine species found in northeastern Pennsylvania have now died from the disease. Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners added the northern long-eared bat, the tri-colored bat, and the little brown bat to Pennsylvania’s endangered species list.
Last summer, Dr. Gary Kwiecinski and I used acoustic monitoring techniques to conduct a preliminary population study of the extant bat species in the state park. The equipment is very heavy so we had to use several bungee cords to stabilize it on the poles. The microphone (not pictured) is delicate and must be out of reach of both animals and humans.
The data that we collected could indicate the regional extinction of five bat species.
This summer, we worked to collect reliable and accurate data to present to the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners. We also plan to publish our data in order to contribute to the wealth of research conducted on White-Nose Syndrome and its effects.
Hopefully, the next few years will bring a stop to bat population declines and mark the beginning of recovery.