There are 47 bat species in the U.S. and Canada, more than half of which are of current conservation concern. Eight are listed as federally endangered. Despite the importance of bats and growing concern about their status, prior to 2015 there was no program to conduct standardized monitoring of bat species across multiple taxa in North America. Bats are notoriously difficult to monitor adding to the need for a coordinated effort.
Spread of WNS
White-nose syndrome (WNS), an emerging fungal disease, was discovered in North America in the winter of 2006. The rapid spread of the disease and associated mortality further prioritized the need to understand population trends.
Subsequently the U.S. WNS National Response Plan (2011) and the WNS Implementation Plan (2014) identified the need for a national framework to model and monitor bat populations. Members of the WNS Response Team's Conservation and Recovery working group developed A Plan for the North American Bat Monitoring Program.
It soon became evident that others in the bat research and management community were tackling similar issues, particularly the increase in bat fatalities associated with large industrial wind turbines. Because factors like WNS and wind turbines affect bat populations across political borders, it was determined that a comprehensive bat monitoring program for all species shared among the United States, Canada, and Mexico was required. By monitoring population and distribution trends across North America, NABat will not only provide information about the impacts of WNS, but also inform land managers and policymakers about the impacts of wind energy development, climate change, habitat loss, and other unanticipated threats that may arise in the future.