Northern Long-Eared Bat Research in Coastal South Carolina, 2018
Ecological Engineering is currently conducting mist net and radio telemetry surveys for the federally listed northern long-eared bat (NLEB) within the Francis Marion National Forest in coastal South Carolina. Surveys are being led by Senior Ecologist Dottie Brown who recently joined Ecological Engineering in the spring of 2018. During the summer of 2017, Ms. Brown was able to document, for the first time, the presence of the NLEB within the Francis Marion National Forest where nine individuals were captured and tracked to diurnal roost sites. With the 2018 survey season coming quickly to a close, the Ecological Engineering bat survey team has captured and tracked ten NLEB in this area. Shown in the adjacent photo is a tiny transmitter that is attached to each captured NLEB, where they are then tracked for nearly a week to their summer roost trees.
The NLEB has been typically observed in mountain forest communities and had not been documented, until recently, in piedmont and coastal areas of North and South Carolina. Populations of this species throughout most of its range have plummeted in recent years due to White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS is a disease caused by a fungus that negatively affects bats while they hibernate and is responsible for an estimated loss of over 6 million bats. The good news is that for these newly discovered coastal populations, like the one Ecological Engineering is researching in South Carolina, depicts no signs of WNS. Due to the warm, semi-tropical conditions in these areas and during intervals of warmer temperatures in the winter, the coastal bat populations remain and do not hibernate for very long periods, like other bat populations. This helps to reduce their contact and potential mortality from this devastating disease. Data collected during this research project will provide critical information needed to develop management plans that protect bat habitats within coastal areas, as well as help to support conservation-related activities to the NLEB and other species of bats.