Bats are mysterious creatures to most people. Surrounded by myth and legend, we have come to fear their presence. However, humans tend to fear that which they do not understand. Bats are in fact a very unique mammal that play an important role in our ecosystem. For example, just one bat can eat hundreds to thousands of insects in a night and they love mosquitoes, flies and mayflies. Unfortunately, populations in some species of bats, especially Little Brown Bats, are in drastic decline because of the White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a non-native fungal disease.
How can you help? Scientists are tracking and studying the effects of WNS on bat populations across the country by observations of known colonies. At The Trustees of Reservations’ Cormier Woods in Uxbridge and Mendon, a Big Brown Bat maternity colony returns each year to the historic barn on the property. Resident Caretakers, Jim and Mary Beauchamp, in partnership with EARTH Ltd (Environmental Awareness of Resources & Threatened Habitats) a non-profit organization based at neighboring Southwick’s Zoo, are inviting citizen scientists to participate in a community science project.
The goal of this community science project is to gather baseline information on the summer bat maternity roost in the barn at Cormier Woods. General emergence counts will be conducted by volunteers over several weeks in June and July. The information gathered will be used to compare pre-volant (before pups can fly) and post-volant (after pups start flying) populations in the colony. Participation in the project will also provide the community with an opportunity to learn more about bats and their role in our ecological system, as well as to dispel some ‘myths’ about bats in general.
The project was kicked-off on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at Southwick’s Zoo, with a presentation by Jonathan D. Reichard, Ph.D., National Assistant Coordinator for White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Christopher Richardson, Ph.D., Department of Biology, Boston University and at the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, Lesley University. Christopher’s focus is on research in Immune function, Energetics and Biostatistics. They presented information on bats and current research on WNS.
Conducting bat colony counts is easy and fun as well as very helpful to scientists. Subsequent counts each year will monitor the health and continuity of the colony. Volunteers should pre-register by sending an email to [email protected]. Please include the name of the observer(s) and a phone number. Participants 16 years old or younger must be accompanied by an adult.
EARTH Ltd. focuses on environmental education and their goal is to teach our community about topics including ecology, endangered species, and sustainability. The Trustees of Reservations preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value. The Trustees own and manage more than 100 properties, encompassing 25,000 acres in Massachusetts.