When we look at back at 2019, the highlight of the year will surely be the discovery of the endangered Indiana bat colony at Shaw Nature Reserve, located just southwest of St. Louis city. The previous discovery of a single female Indiana bat during an educational survey conducted by Wildheart led to further study efforts, which occurred in collaboration between Shaw Nature Reserve (Missouri Botanical Garden; http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and
During the summer, mist net surveys were conducted at Shaw, which resulted in the capture of numerous Indiana bats, including the female 'Celeste' captured in 2017. Four of the individuals were tagged with radio-transmitters and tracked for about one week, in search of the colony's maternity tree.
Once the maternity tree was discovered, biologists walked through the woods and convened at the tree in the evening. They quietly sat in areas where bats could be seen exiting the tree. Each biologist was tasked with counting bats as the exited or entered the tree using their vision, or with a near infra-red camera.
Approximately 200 adult bats were counted leaving the tree during the evening to forage using a near-infrared camera. The pups were too young to fly in early June and remain in the tree while the mothers forage for food in the night, meaning the tree contained even more bats than was estimated by the crew.
Pictured below are Jenny and Mike, laying directly beneath the tree and giving them a good vantage point from which they could see bats exiting beneath the bark on the dead tree.
To see a video of our the survey effort, follow the YouTube video link below.
It's comforting to know that this colony, unlike other colonies in the area, are safe and protected from development. Shaw Nature Reserve is thrilled about this discovery and will take great care to protect their endangered bats through continued land management. Prairie and forest stewardship, which includes prescribed burns and removal of invasive vegetation, benefits bats by providing them with suitable roosting habitat and good quality foraging areas.
For more information on this study, check out the YouTube Video above as well as the article below: