Bat Acoustic Monitoring


Principal Investigator:

Julie Blanchong

Student Investigator:



Kelly Poole, Iowa DNR

Stephanie Shepherd, Iowa DNR


June 2015 to October 2018

Funding Source(s):

Iowa Department of Natural Resources


Goals and Objectives:

Conduct acoustic surveys along drive transects and in fixed-locations to monitor bat activity



White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a devastating disease associated with the mortality of millions of bats, was first documented in New York during the winter of 2005-2006, and is now confirmed in Iowa. The loss of large numbers of bats due to WNS is expected to have enormous economic impacts to agriculture. Knowledge of the abundance and distribution of bat species in Iowa is minimal, but is critically needed to understand the potential ramifications of WNS to Iowa. Bat acoustic monitoring has been conducted for the past four summers along transects in eastern, central and southern Iowa.

In summer 2016, we worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to recruit and train volunteers to conduct the acoustic surveys. Relying on well-trained local volunteers to conduct the drive transects was efficient and cost effective. It also increased public engagement with the project and public awareness of bats and the threat of WNS. Citizen scientists collected bat echolocation data on 19 drive transects in central, eastern, and southern Iowa and 6 walking transects in central Iowa. Each transect was surveyed run twice during June and July. Similar to previous years, bat activity on drive transects was higher in Eastern Iowa than Central Iowa. Bat activity was higher at parks than at farms in Central Iowa. Regional differences in the percentage of “low” and “high” frequency bats were similar to findings in previous years. Specifically, in Central and Southern Iowa, bats in the low frequency group, consisting of big brown, hoary, and silver-haired bats, were most commonly recorded. In the Eastern region, bats in the high frequency group, consisting of Eastern red, evening, Indiana, little brown, northern long-eared, and tricolored bats, were most commonly recorded.


Future Plans:

We will continue to conduct drive transect surveys along established routes during summer 2017 to record echolocation calls. We will also establish three fixed location sites overlapping three drive transects for the purpose of comparing data collected by drive and fixed location surveys. As in previous years, the IDNR will recruit volunteers to conduct the surveys. ISU will hold orientation sessions to train volunteers how to conduct surveys, teach them how to use the equipment, and show them how to keep appropriate records. ISU will continue to be responsible for analyzing the data collected by the volunteers to quantify bat activity and identify bat species. 

06/01/2015 to 10/31/2018
Award Number: