The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) bat research team is asking for help from citizens in its efforts to document bat populations in Texas.
The institute’s Bat and Hibernacula Surveys team is conducting surveys of wintering bats and their roosts throughout Texas to get baseline numbers in anticipation of white-nose syndrome appearing in the state, said Melissa Meierhofer, an IRNR research associate.
“White-nose syndrome is a deadly, cold-adapted fungal disease that affects hibernating bats,” she said. “It has already caused catastrophic bat losses in the eastern United States, and it is projected to come to Texas in the next few years.
“It is important to obtain accurate bat population distribution and abundance data and characterize suitable habitats where the fungus could appear before the disease arrives so the state will be more ready to manage the disease.”
Meierhofer said while the team is constantly traveling to different parts of the state, it cannot cover all locations. “So we are asking individuals who may know of bat roosting locations to help us by filling out a form,” she said.
The form is available online.
“By providing information for any bat seen between December 2016 and March 2017, individuals can help us document which bat species are overwintering in the state, and in what part of Texas they can be found,” she said. “If possible, individuals should provide a photograph of both the bat and the location,” she said. “Photo documentation will help provide support for species identifications on all bats observed.”
Those with completed forms should send them to Meierhofer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite A110, College Station, TX 77843-2260.
For more information about the IRNR project, visit its Facebook page.