SOCIAL CIRCLE — As part of a long-term, nationwide survey, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is enlisting volunteers to begin collecting acoustic data from Georgia bats in the wild this month.
The effort will help better monitor changes in bat populations, particularly in the face of widespread threats such as white-nose syndrome. The disease, often referred to as WNS, has killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats.
Georgia’s 16 bat species eat insects only and use biological sonar called echolocation to navigate, communicate and find prey. The survey that wildlife biologist Trina Morris is organizing will ask volunteers to drive a 30-mile route or “transect” carrying equipment that can record and decipher bat calls by species.
“Acoustic transects provide a great opportunity for the public to be directly involved in collecting data on wildlife species in the state,” said Morris, who works with the Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. “By driving the same routes over time, we can better monitor these species and the impacts of WNS and other impacts to bats in our state.”
Protocols and an instructional video posted at www.georgiawildlife.org/AnabatProject describe how and when routes are run (30 minutes after sunset once this month and in July). A map marks where the 31 routes are in the state and which ones are open. Participating states follow similar standards.
Morris will provide the recording equipment, which is called an Anabat and was purchased for the project through a federal grant. Volunteers need a vehicle, plus the flexibility and dedication to run the routes as needed, report the data and hopefully agree to participate for more than one summer.
For more information, go to www.georgiawildlife.org/AnabatProject. Interested volunteers can contact Morris at email@example.com or 777-918-6411.