THE ALBERTA BAT CONSERVATION PROJECTCategory: 2021, Current, Grant, Land Use
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada’s Alberta Bat Conservation Project combines outreach, education and science to address imminent conservation threats facing Alberta’s bats. This project involves a multifaceted approach that is coordinated through two initiatives of WCS Canada: The Alberta Community Bat Program (www.albertabats.ca), which focuses on outreach and conservation science to improve the management of summer bat habitats, and Alberta BatCaver, which will locate and monitor caves used by bats during the winter.
Using new analysis methods, the project will mobilize a network of volunteers and partner organizations to collect scientifically rigorous data on the distribution, health, and status of bats, as well as demonstrate the importance of bats to agriculture. Of particular importance to this project is the collection of guano (poop) from buildings and bridges, and subsequent DNA analysis to determine what bats are eating, where they are occurring, and whether they have been exposed to a fungal pathogen causing a rapidly spreading human-caused disease of bats: white-nose syndrome.
Underpinning this conservation work is community engagement and outreach—as citizen scientists contribute to the project, this information is delivered to communities throughout Alberta, to promote change for protection of bats and their habitats. New discoveries are used to update several online resources designed to foster the free exchange of information that will improve bat management across North America.