Identifying a Rare Bat
When Aiden Cherniske ‘23 began an independent study project to help raise awareness about bats in the northwest corner of Connecticut, he never thought it would lead him to a federally threatened species. As part of UConn’s Conservation Training Partnership (CTP), Aiden started his year-long project in July with Science Department Chair Laurie Doss as his mentor, working in conjunction with the Kent Land Trust. Aiden and Ms. Doss have been surveying bat species found in different habitats and elevations within the town of Kent and on Kent Land Trust Property. Six locations are visited every two weeks where bat species are recorded using a Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter Touch 2 PRO Handheld Bat Detector.
The CTP project took a detour, however, when state wildlife rehabilitators, Linda Bowen and Maureen Heidtmann, asked for help photographing a bat to confirm species identification. Using macro-photography techniques, Aiden was able to help federal wildlife officials confirm that the bat in rehabilitation was indeed a federally threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis). It was the first time in almost ten years that biologists have confirmed breeding in the state. Laurie Doss:
We are delighted that a project to raise awareness about bats in the state for UConn's NRCA’s Conservation Training Partnerships (CTP) Program could also lend a hand in confirming this species. As part of a conservation project about bats, Aiden '23 and I helped take close-up photos of the tragus ear flap and feet (below) for bat rehabilitators in the state to assist with the identification of this special bat species. Shout-out to Linda Bowen and Maureen Heidtmann for all their hard work to ensure that this bat survived and was able to be released back into its natural environment!
The bat was part of a pair of pups, originally discovered at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge when they fell out an info kiosk. The bats were taken to a licensed rehabilitator. One was too weak to survive, but the other improved and was able to be released back into the wild on Friday, September 13th. From Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge Facebook post:
Our little bat – who weighed in around five grams, roughly the weight of a quarter – was a great flyer when released! We thought it would rest in the kiosk where it had been found for a little while, but it headed directly for a nice old cedar tree instead.
This type of bat is the only species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act primarily due to the threat of white-nose syndrome, an often-deadly disease of hibernating bats. Northern long-eared bats, little brown bats and tricolored bats are the three hardest-hit species by the fungal disease. For more information on white-nose syndrome, you can go to https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/
Aiden and Ms. Doss resumed their regular bat-surveying schedule. They will be presenting their project at UConn in March 2020 with CTP teams from around the State.