Bat Monitoring in Cape Breton
Bats are an important part of our ecosystem. Unfortunately, bats in the Cape Breton region are being threatened by a devestating fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. As a result, ACAP Cape Breton is now monitoring seasonal bat activity on Cape Breton Island.
There are over 1000 species of bats worldwide, but only three species spend their time year round in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia, bats are active mainly from spring to fall - this coincides with warmer temperatures and an abundance of insects. Our resident bats wake from hibernation in the spring and move to summer roosts.
The little brown, northern long-eared, and tri-coloured bats are permament residents of Nova Scotia.
ACAP Cape Breton has been monitoring bat activity in several locations across the Island. Using ultrasonic bat detectors, we've collected recordings or bat activity in typical summer habitats.
The data has allowed us to determine which species are present locally and provides context for data collected in the winter. Placing the bat detectors near hibernacula will allow us to detect abnormal winter bat activity such as flying and foraging, which could be indicative of possible white-nose syndrome.
What is white-nose syndrome?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devestating diseased caused by infection with the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans that is spreading across eastern North America. The fungus infects bats while they are hibernating in cold, damp environments such as caves and mine shafts.
Bats have a significantly weaker immune system when hibernating, leaving them vulnerable to infection and subsequent severe damage to wing and muzzle tissue. Additionally, WNS wakes up bats from hibernation, at which point they begin to search for food. This abnormal behaviour often occurs during the winter when there is no food available for the bats. As a result, they typically die of starvation or dehydration.
How you can help
You can report unusual winter bat behaviour such as bats flying during the daytime to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources or ACAP Cape Breton (902-567-1628)
Stay away from caves and hibernacula; human activity can spread white-nose syndrome by transporting the soil-dwelling fungus from cave to cave
Install bat boxes around your home. An effective bat box should be at least 5 metres above ground, sheltered from high winds, and exposed to sunlight. These dwellings are excellent places for bats to roost in the summer. Learn how to build your own bat box here! (courtesy of BatConservation.org)
For a more information about our bat monitoring projects, check out our reports:
(Click for full-size)