International Bat Appreciation Day on April 17 celebrates the important role that bats play in our lives. Due to threats from disease and climate change, bat populations in North America and beyond are considered to be endangered. Student Conservation Association interns work to help monitor bat populations and provide critical research efforts, including acoustic surveys and population assessments.

At Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, SCA crew members work during the summer and winter seasons to identify bat roosts and make population counts of cave and structure bat roosts. This internship also contributes to field surveys and stationary monitoring in association with state and national cooperative efforts to evaluate winter bat populations to assess the impacts of White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease killing bats in North America.

Eastern small-footed bat
Eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii), Mammoth Cave National Park. (National Park Service)

The Bureau of Land Management El Centro Field Office in the California Desert intern will be focused around the deployment of acoustic detectors, which record audio that can be analyzed to determine which bat species are present in a given area.

Gathering a robust set of data on bat species presence and locations provides a great deal of useful information that the Bureau of Land Management can use to inform management decisions on public lands, evaluate the health of bat populations, and characterize threats to bat populations and habitat. This inventory and monitoring effort would also allow wildlife biologists to determine and evaluate habitat use by specific bat species.

Bats play an important role in natural and human systems, contributing to pest control, plant pollination and seed dispersal. You can help protect them! Your gift to protect pollinators and their habitats will be DOUBLED for Earth Month.