Bat Population Data (BPD) Project

The USGS Bat Population Data Project

In 1994, USGS scientists recognized that despite increasing concern for many species of bats known or believed to be declining, the data necessary to determine population status and trends were fragmented among agencies and organizations. Thus began the USGS Bat Population Data Project, which has become a multi-phase, comprehensive effort to compile existing population information for bats in the United States and Territories. The initial phase of this project was developed to (1) synthesize the existing bat population data and publications for the United States and Territories into a single web accessible database, (2) test the utility of this data for estimating trends in bat populations, and (3) evaluate the applicability of this data to design future monitoring programs. The Bat Population Database (BPD v.1), the project’s initial product, compiles various components of bat population data from 1855-2001, particularly counts of bats at colony locations, location attributes, and a complete bibliography of bat publications (published literature, theses and agency reports, and State agency files) for the U.S. and Territories.

Next, a scientific workshop was convened to evaluate the current status of bat populations, the methods used to estimate their trends, and developing scientific goals for future monitoring programs. Participants included experts in bat biology, wildlife population monitoring, and wildlife population estimation. In 2003, the USGS Fort Collins Science Center published the results of the workshop in a USGS Information and Technology Report titled “Monitoring trends in bat populations of the United States and territories: problems and prospects” (O’Shea and Bogan, 2003). This report includes a summary and analysis of the BPD v.1 data and its utility in guiding the design of future monitoring programs.

In the years since completion of BPD v.1 and workshop report, North American bat populations have continued to decline. Of particular concern have been the precipitous declines of hibernating bats affected by White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a novel fungal pathogen, as well as the significant threat to migrating bats from increasing wind energy development. These combined threats have generated renewed interest for data suitable for bat population estimation and trend analysis.

Currently, USGS scientists are responding to this need by upgrading, updating and extending the capabilities of BPD v.1 for better data management, accessibility and utility by USGS and data partners. The objectives of this phase are to:

  • Update existing bat population data and publications since 2001.
  • Provide web-based BPD access to researchers and management/conservation organizations, thereby facilitating collaboration and data sharing between data partners.
  • Provide advanced search capabilities including enhanced form-based searches as well as the ability to search by location by clicking on maps.
  • Define standard data sets for collecting and managing data to facilitate a standards-based approach and provide a solid foundation for research.
  • Provide USGS scientists and BPD data partners with report and export services.

Development of the next version of the database, BPD v.2, began in April, 2012 with initial Beta releases in June and October, 2012. These initial Beta releases provided prospective users with the ability to search for bibliographic references , as well as perform species-oriented searches that display species distributions on maps and related species statistics and tabular data. BPD v.2 will become fully operational and replace the existing BPD v.1 in April 2013.

Pallid bat (<i>Antrozous pallidus</i>). Photo by Dan Neubaum. Hoary bat (<i>Lasiurus cinereus</i>). Photo by Paul Cryan Long-legged myotis (<i>Myotis volans</i>) with a radiotransmitter. Photo by Dan Neubaum. Little brown bat (<i>Myotis lucifugus</i>) with the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome. Canyon bat (<i>Parastrellus hesperus</i>). Photo by Dan Neubaum. Big brown bat (<i>Eptesicus fuscus</i>). Photo by Tom O'Shea. Spotted bat (<i>Euderma maculatum</i>). Photo by Dan Neubaum. Long-legged myotis (<i>Myotis volans</i>) captured in a mist net. Photo by Dan Neubaum. Townsend's big-eared bat (<i>Corynorhinus townsendii</i>). Photo by Dan Neubaum. (Alan Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation) Wind-energy Facility (Public Domain FWS image; Credit Joshua Winchell 2009)

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