February 20, 2018
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Bat Researcher, Acadia, Seek Whereabouts of Bats

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BAR HARBOR, Maine — Do you have any bats in your belfry? How about in your barn, house, or shed? College of the Atlantic senior Marissa Altmann is collaborating with Bruce Connery of Acadia National Park and Tim Divoll from the Biodiversity Research Institute on a survey of buildings where bats roost on Mount Desert Island.

If you have seen bats leaving a building or structure this spring or know of one where bats have been active in the past, please send an e-mail to batsofMDI@gmail.com with your name and contact information, as well as the location of the bat site, when you saw them (year and months), and whether Altmann would be able to come survey the site in May.

Altmann’s project consists of exit surveys of buildings on Mount Desert Island where bats have recently been reported or have been known to reside. Six species of bats are known to be on MDI; at least five spend some part of their summer on the island. Many of them can be seen at dusk near a pond, stream, or body of water that attracts insects. Your knowledge of where bats have been or are roosting will help Altmann and her partners learn about bat activities and roosting behavior on the island. It will also promote greater appreciation for the important role bats play in the region’s ecosystem, primarily by regulating insect populations.

Deeper knowledge of bats is especially needed in light of declines due to White Nose Syndrome, which reached Acadia in 2011 and 2012. Using acoustic and visual methods, Altmann can learn what species are present, estimate the number of bats using each building, and how the species or bat numbers change through the summer. The knowledge gained from her efforts and those following her this summer will establish an informational baseline that can be used in comparisons with future surveys. Altmann is excited to work with the community of MDI in her research on bats.

During her time at COA, Altmann has explored relationships between wildlife, biological research, communities, and policy; last spring she also researched the effects of wind direction on bat foraging behavior at Bubble Pond. Altmann recently served as the U.S. Youth Delegate to the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok, Thailand. Having spent an extended period of time as an intern and research student in the Mammal Division of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, she became interested in how interdisciplinary understandings of different types of ecological knowledge can be used in conservation. Both her bat research, and her COA senior project—a look at how the 1910 Smithsonian-Roosevelt Expedition portrayed local relationships with wildlife—have been presented at academic symposiums.

Please send details of bay activity, along with the buildings or structures where bats have been seen to batsofMDI@gmail.com. Altmann will be monitoring this e-mail through June 1and park staff will continue to check the email address through the summer for new reports from MDI residents.