Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Investigating Predictors of Bat Community Composition in Baltimore
Carpenter, Ela-Sita
Co-Authors: Charles H. Nilon

Abstract: Some studies suggest that bats are good indicators for determining urbanization's impact on wildlife. Bats are also a taxon of concern and little is known about their presence in the Baltimore region. We are interested in investigating what factors, ecological and socioeconomic, may play a role in what bat species are present. We first investigated urbanization as a predictor by using an urban-rural gradient, the Gwynns Falls watershed (GFW). We hypothesized that species richness and activity would decrease as sites transitioned from suburban to urban. In summer 2016, active acoustic monitoring was conducted at nine greenspaces adjacent to water gauges along the GFW. Over 1,600 calls from seven species were recorded. Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) and red bats (Lasiurus borealis) were present at all sites. Bat species richness did not decrease as hypothesized and bat activity levels did not appear to follow a pattern. A pilot study conducted in parks and vacant lots during this same time suggested that larger parks had more species present; additionally some vacant lots were more active than some parks. This investigation of vacant lots continued during summer 2017 via passive acoustic monitoring at 16 vacant lots. Over 35,000 calls were recorded; data is still being analyzed, but initial results show similar species and several sites may have distinct communities and varying activity levels. Currently seasonality is being investigated at these same lots. In the future, we hope to investigate historical landscape data and Baltimore’s racial past as possible predictors of current bat presence.