(This announcement was transmitted via the Northeastern Bat Working Group, Midwest Bat Working Group, and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network listservs on 3 Feb. 2012)
Greetings Bat Conservationists!
As most of you are aware, over the past year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has led a multi-agency team in the development of these protocols in response to several things: (1) our 2007 Indiana bat survey protocols recognized the potential role that acoustic monitoring can play, but did not define the methods; (2) the Service is developing other Indiana bat regional guidance, which would benefit from a standardized approach to acoustic monitoring; (3) increasing frequency of use of acoustic monitoring at wind projects without standard protocols; and (4) documented declines in mist-netting capture rates and detection probability of Indiana bats in areas with population declines due to white-nose syndrome.
The team was comprised of State and Federal agency experts in one or more of the following subject areas: (1) Indiana bat conservation; (2) Federal Endangered Species Act implementation; (3) use of acoustic detection devices and mist-netting; and (4) acoustic call identification. Individuals outside of Federal government who were not state employees serving in their official capacities at the direction of elected state officials were not considered for inclusion in the initial survey protocol team to avoid any conflicts of interest or potential personal/commercial gain and to ensure compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. We are now ready for review and constructive feedback of the document by a wider audience.
The team conducted an extensive literature review on Indiana bat capture/detection methodologies (seeking out published and gray literature) and built off of that base knowledge. However, we recognize that some of you may have unpublished data examining detectability of Indiana bats that were not readily available to us that may be helpful in designing the final protocols. We look forward to receiving this type of information.
We are requesting your participation in a peer review of the document. We seek your individual and independent assessment.
Please note that we have strong support and rationale for developing standardized acoustic monitoring protocols and fully anticipate that acoustic methods will be part of the final protocols. Therefore, comments on HOW (rather than WHETHER) to use acoustic methods are respectfully requested. In particular, we are interested in feedback on the proposed level of effort and whether it is adequate to detect Indiana bats in light of marked reductions in netting efficiency post-WNS.
Please send your individual comments/constructive feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org by March 2, 2012.
The Service will consider timely comments and incorporate changes as appropriate for summer 2012 pilot implementation. The Service will be working with others on limited, directed projects designed to demonstrate and validate field protocols in 2012. We will do our best to make the summer 2012 protocols available by March 30, 2012.
For project reviews in summer 2012, the Service will continue to use/accept the current (2007) Indiana bat survey protocols. However, we strongly encourage the use of acoustics in areas heavily impacted by white-nose syndrome as we have already demonstrated poor capture success for Indiana bats with mist nets in those areas. Please work directly with your local Service field office for projects in these areas in 2012. In addition, for projects that already have an acoustic component (e.g., pre-construction surveys for wind projects), we strongly encourage using the minimum level of effort outlined in these protocols.
Peer-review will help the Service craft final draft protocols. In early fall 2012, we will publish a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of these draft protocols for full public comment. We will consider all comments received during the public-comment period and results of summer 2012 pilot implementation when writing the final survey protocols.
Final survey protocols are anticipated by mid- to late-winter 2012-2013 with full implementation of the protocols in summer 2013.
Please note that a new, automated acoustic software program will be available from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center soon. We understand that other software is currently under development as well. These new programs will greatly assist with standardizing acoustic analyses and reporting.
We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with all of you to develop the best possible protocols to document presence/absence of Indiana bats.
Mike Armstrong (email@example.com)
Andy King (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robyn Niver (email@example.com)
Draft revised Indiana Bat Summer Survey Protocols (42-page PDF)