Since 2006, white-nose syndrome has caused drastic declines in populations of several hibernating bat species throughout eastern North America. Thus, there is a growing need to establish long-term monitoring programs to assess changes in bat populations over time. Information on the seasonal timing of species occurrence and the sampling effort required to acoustically detect individual bat species and obtain complete inventories will enable researchers to design and implement more effective monitoring programs. From April to October 2018 to 2021, we passively sampled for bats using full-spectrum detectors at eight permanent sites at Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center, Pennsylvania. We examined seasonal activity patterns and estimated bat species richness among sites and seasons using species accumulation curves. We also estimated probability of detection (p) and site occupancy (Ψ) using single-season occupancy models in PRESENCE software and then determined the minimum number of sampling nights needed to reliably infer the absence of each species. We identified 286,131 bat passes of eight species in 4,107 detector-nights. Seasonal patterns of activity varied among species. We needed approximately 20 sampling nights to detect 90% of the total bat species richness among sites, and we needed 4 to 10 nights to detect 90% of species richness among seasons. We needed relatively few nights (≤12 nights) to detect most species during summer; however, we needed many more nights to detect acoustically rare species. Our results indicate that the acoustic sampling effort currently required to determine the presence or probable absence of Indiana myotis Myotis sodalis, northern long-eared myotis M. septentrionalis, and tricolored bats Perimyotis subflavus during summer may not be adequate for these species in some areas and that a considerable level of effort (>40 nights) is needed to detect little brown myotis M. lucifugus. Monitoring programs that incorporate efficient sampling methodologies will be critical for future conservation efforts as populations of several bat species continue to decline.

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Author notes

Citation: Hauer CL, Shinskie JL, Brady RJ, Titus CN. 2023. Sampling duration and season recommendations for passive acoustic monitoring of bats after white-nose syndrome. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 14(2):xx–xx; e1944-687X. https://doi.org/10.3996/JFWM-23-021

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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