Petaluma Bounty Celebrates #batweek with Bat Detector Findings

Did you know that it’s Batweek? These critters may get a lot of attention in October because of their spooky literary cameos, but they do so much to create a vibrant ecosystem!

(Image of Western Red Bat retrieved from here)

We celebrated at the farm by getting the results back from the bat detector box that was set up at the farm a month ago. This was our first time having one placed at the farm and were not sure what the results would be; however, we were excited to find out that we had six species of bats visit just in the four nights the bat detector box was at the farm. According to Matt Lau, our liaison to the North American Bat Monitoring Program, there are fourteen typical species of bats in the county and they speculate that we had more of those species at the farm but they just weren’t represented in the four nights the bat box was there.

According to their website, “The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) is an international interagency program designed to monitor bat distributions and abundances on public and private lands, and provide trend data at the state, provincial, tribal, regional (e.g., Landscape Conservation Cooperatives), and range-wide scales.

The goal of NABat is to provide natural resource managers with information required to manage bat populations effectively, detect early warning signs of population decline, and estimate extinction risk.”

Lau added, “Creating partnerships with the public and organizations such as the Petaluma Bounty Farm, are critical for the success of conservation programs such as the North American Bat Monitoring Program. Furthermore, engaging with the public is an essential step in spreading awareness about the societal and ecological importance of having healthy bat populations. These collaborations assist scientists in understanding the world around us, while providing opportunities for partners and the public to participate in science.”

So, why be excited about bats at the farm? They are pollinators! Most people think of butterflies when they think about pollinators but bats are an integral part of farm life and also help keep the insect population down! According to one study, they can eat upwards of 1,000 mosquitoes in a night! Further, their guano can provide nutrient rich fertilizer, as well! Bats are just one more representation of how important biodiversity is at a farm, and in the community in general.

The following species were at the farm on the nights surveyed:

Western red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii) – 2 of 4 nights, Sep 23-24

Hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) – 2 of 4 nights, Sep 23 and Sep 25

Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) – 1 of 4 nights, Sep 22

California myotis (Myotis californicus) – 2 of 4 nights, Sep 22 and Sep 24

Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) – 1 of 4 nights, Sep 25

Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) – 3 of 4 nights, Sep 22-23 and Sep 25

Make sure you check out the links for the species above to learn more about each one and their unique patterns as well as fun facts about each type of species. According to Ted Weller, US Forest Service biologist, “The hoary, red, and silver-haired bats are all species that are in the process of migrating during this time of year, so our success detecting them may have come from the time of year we monitored. If we monitor earlier in the summer next year, we may find different species.” For more information on bat migration and hibernation, check out this excellent article from Bat Conservation International.

For more information about the bats and monitoring them, please visit the North American Bat Monitoring Program website, which is where the overarching framework for the surveys comes from, or check out the site where our results will be added, the Bat Acoustic Monitoring Visualization Tool.

Looking forward, we are hoping to have our local biologist do a bat workshop this winter when he is done collecting and analyzing data. In the meantime, feel free to ask him questions via email (mjaylau707@gmail.com) or instagram @mjaylau 

Let’s continue to celebrate the vibrant biodiversity we get to see on our farms and in our community.

Happy #batweek from Petaluma Bounty!

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