Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
UPDATE: Service Adds an Acoustic Protocol to Survey Guidelines for Indiana Bats
Midwest Region, September 27, 2013
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Over the past two years, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists from Regions 2, 3, 4, and 5 have led a multi-agency team tasked with revising the Service’s Summer Survey Guidelines for conducting presence/probable absence surveys for the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). A primary goal of the revisions was to incorporate an acoustic survey protocol in lieu of or in addition to traditional mist netting.
Acoustic sampling with electronic bat detectors has become a common, powerful technique used by researchers and biologists with government agencies, environmental consulting firms and academics for monitoring the activity of echolocating bats and for collecting behavioral, presence/absence and relative abundance data. The results of research relying on bat detectors inform our understanding of bat ecology and behavior and are increasingly used to guide important wildlife management decisions. Acoustic monitoring is non-intrusive, typically less labor-intensive than mist netting and capable of recording large quantities of data over extended periods of time. However, the use of this technique is not without some technical difficulties and challenges. For example, accurately differentiating among similarly sounding species may not always be possible especially when echolocation calls are recorded under less than ideal field conditions.
The Service conducted a peer review of the first draft of the new survey guidelines in February 2012 and conducted a public review of a second draft from January 9 to March 11, 2013. Approximately 70 sets of public comments were received and considered while making additional revisions. The Service successfully implemented a new version of the Indiana bat survey guidelines in the summer of 2013 that allowed use of an acoustic survey option or a mist netting option. The Service is currently working with the U.S. Geological Survey to independently test the accuracy of available automated acoustic identification software programs and anticipates that some additional changes to the survey protocols will be announced (via the regional bat working groups and the website below) prior to the 2014 survey season.
Information and updates regarding the Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines are available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/inbasummersurveyguidance.html
Information regarding automated acoustic bat ID software programs is available at

Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines link
Contact Info: Andy King, 812-334-4261 x1216, Andrew_King@fws.gov
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