Alarming Situation for a Golden Insectivore: the Bat

In recent years, the world bat population has declined alarmingly. Several factors have affected the eight species of bats that can be found in Quebec: loss of habitat, the use of pesticides and the white snout syndrome, an exotic disease that came from Europe and appeared in North America in 2006.

In recent years, hundreds of cave bat populations have been decimated by this disease. This could lead to a major imbalance in the food chains of our ecosystems because bats participate in the regulation of insect populations and particularly in the control of several insects harmful to agriculture.

It is therefore important to conduct inventories on these small, winged mammals to better promote their protection and recovery.

The project initiated in 2019 by Appalachian Corridor aims to inventory eight bat hibernacula present on its territory of action. The goal being to better understand the range of our species and to determine local threats.

The data collected is shared with the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) and allows us to orient conservation and site management actions, to promote the eventual protection of the bats’ natural habitat and to reduce sources of mortality.

In the fall and spring, when bats enter or leave their winter habitats, fixed inventories are conducted in front of known or potential hibernacula by installing bat detectors. Hibernacula can be, among others, caves, mines, or screes. No one enters hibernacula to avoid disturbing the bats. Signs of presence, such as traces of guano, are looked for at the entrance of the hibernacula. The calls recorded on the sites are analyzed with the help of a software to know the diversity of the various species present on each site.

Research on the rest of the territory will be carried out to find other potential sites. An invitation has been sent to the local population to identify other potential hibernacula on the territory. Long-term monitoring of these hibernacula is planned to document the evolution of the bat populations that use these sites.

Photo: Denis Fournier