Our workshop location at the American Museum of Natural History's renowned Southwestern Research Station puts us in the heart of one of the most spectacular western wilderness habitats, yet allows us to stay and work in unexpected comfort. The Station provides three hearty meals daily, climate controlled lecture rooms, and fully appointed overnight accommodations. With its location at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the Station is nestled in a lush, riparian canyon shaded by oaks, sycamores, cypress, and cottonwoods, tucked away like a pearl in an otherwise rugged and harsh landscape. Our fieldwork during this course will take us from the desert floor to high-elevation pine forest, all without having to travel more than 12 miles from the station.
The workshop takes advantage of the remarkably accessible habitat diversity and combines indoor classroom lectures and discussions with outdoor field outings, many within walking distance of our classroom. Participants will learn about the local bat fauna before going out in the field to encounter them up close and personal using mist nets and harp traps. Capture, handling, identification, data-collection, marking, and monitoring will be demonstrated using all current WNS protocols for disinfection and decontamination. Students will have opportunities to combine habitat assessments with physical capture methods and acoustic recording to document species occupancy and learn first-hand about conducting comprehensive inventory and monitoring methods. See below for a complete list of lecture and discussion topics, demonstrations, and evening field activities. Daily goals and objectives for the course are described more fully at the bottom of this page. And an annotated draft agenda is available for download here.
The Western Bat Survey Techniques Workshop is open to biologists and naturalists from federal, state, or local agencies, college and/or graduate students, and other professionals or enthusiasts with a desire to learn more about full-spectrum echolocation recording and bat call analysis using SonoBat software. No prior experience is necessary. Students are not required to handle bats, so rabies pre-exposure vaccination is not required.
One session: May 15-19 (Wednesday-Sunday). Class size: Limited to 20 students. Location: Southwestern Research Station, Portal AZ.
Janet Tyburec, B.A. Biology and B.A. English (1989) Trinity University, a full-time employee at Bat Conservation International, Inc. (BCI), from 1989 thru September 2002, has been involved in the structure and execution of training workshops since the inception of BCI's educational efforts in 1992. She received extensive training in bat ecology and research from BCI founder, Merlin D. Tuttle. She has been a contract employee for BCI since 2002 and has also taught field workshops for Bat Conservation and Management (BCM) since 2007. Over the years, she has personally trained over 2,500 wildlife biologists, land managers, and students of conservation in the course of presenting over 150 field workshops. She is currently a private contractor and provides training and instruction on bat research, inventory, and monitoring for numerous private, federal and state agencies, including the USDA Forest Service, USDI National Park Service, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Defense. Through these efforts she has designed and conducted custom training workshops for agency directors, staff, wildlife biologists, resource managers, seasonal employees, and volunteers..
John Chenger president of Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. (BCM), has worked with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) to conduct cave and mine assessments and other bat inventories. He has also worked with BCI since 1997 to facilitate training workshops in Arizona, California, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. He founded BCM in 1999 to address nuisance bat management issues by providing man-made roosts and performing bat-exclusion and bat- proofing services. His company has grown to include seasonal bat roost and habitat surveys, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) endangered species compliance inventories, acoustic monitoring studies, and large-scale migratory bat radio-tracking projects. His work has led him to develop and manufacture commercially available survey gear including mist net poles, portable triple-high mist-net sets, harp traps, and bat houses certified by BCI. He has also served as Director of Interpretation at Laurel Caverns for 5 years.
Additional colleagues with decades of bat study and research experience will assist our primary instructors with demonstrations and nighttime field activities. These bat wranglers have intimate knowledge about bat survey techniques and allow for additional one-on-one time between students and teachers. They bring a diversity of experiences and multiple approaches for solving bat survey challenges to our course. Students will benefit immensely from working with and learning from everyone on the team, and will leave the workshop with an excellent foundation for moving forward with their own future studies.
Lectures and discussions cover a full range of bat natural history, identification, capture, and handling skills. Survey techniques covered during the course include, physical capture methods, acoustic monitoring, marking and banding, radio tracking, and data recording, analysis and reporting. A summary of topics includes:
Introduction to regional bat natural history, distribution, and morphological identification
Physical capture techniques using harp traps, mist nets, and other situation-specific methods
Summary of bat detectors and acoustic monitoring
Viewing and recording bats using video, night-vision/infra-red cameras, and thermal imaging
Assessing habitat for bats and micro-siting for effective surveys
Tips on bat detector use and deployment for acoustic inventories
Basic introduction to call characteristics for bat identification on the basis of echolocation calls
Marking and banding for long-term studies
Radio-tracking techniques for collecting foraging and roosting data on bat species of interest
New and emerging technologies to advance the science of bat research
Instructors will provide guided, hands-on demonstrations during both daytime and nighttime field practicums. Participants will work in small groups, providing added opportunity for individual instruction. Topics will include:
Deploying single-, double-, and triple-high mist nets
Assembling and siting harp traps
Combining harp traps and mist nets in geometric combinations to increase capture success
Conducting active, passive, and mobile bat-detector deployments
Adding acoustic inventories efforts to assess survey protocols and refine occupancy estimates
Simulated radio-tracking efforts to identify bat roosting resources
Comparing effects of effort, habitat diversity, capture methods, and survey conditions on inventory results
Addressing power, security, and weatherproofing for long-term, passive deployments
Western Bat Survey
Location and Directions: The American Museum of Natural History's Southwestern Research Station is located about 5-miles from the tiny town of Portal in southeastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border. The nearest major city is Tucson (airport code TUS), which is about 3 hours by vehicle. Participants might also find better flights and connections by flying into Phoenix (PHX) another 1-1/2 hours north of Tucson. There is no cellphone service at the Station or within the canyon at the majority of our field sites. More information about travel to the Station, is available at: http://research.amnh.org/swrs/about-swrs/directionsclimate
Dates and times: May 15 (Wednesday) thru May 19 (Sunday). Check-in begins at noon on Monday May 15, outside the Southwestern Research Station Nature Center. The first classroom session begins promptly at 1pm. Formal presentations will conclude by noon on Sunday May 19. NOTE: Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time and remains on Mountain Standard Time year round, please plan your travel to arrive in the area accordingly.
Southwestern Research Station Lodging:
Due to the remoteness of our location and paucity of nearby alternate lodging, overnight lodging is included with this workshop for the nights of 15-18 May. Lodging is dormitory style, with up to 3 people per room. A pro-rated registration fee for participants wishing to attempt to find off-site lodging is not available.
General Equipment: Participants need to bring appropriate field gear, including hiking boots, a headlamp with batteries, a personal pack, sunscreen, bat handling glove, a supply of latex gloves for compliance with WNS protocols, and a water bottle. Participants will need proof rabies pre-exposure vaccination to handle bat during this course and should plan to obtain the three-shot series at least one month prior to attendance. Proof of sufficient rabies antibody tire (dated no more than 2 years prior to the start of the course) will also be accepted. Field locations can be surprisingly cool at night, please bring a jacket and dress appropriately for evening activities. Bring clothing and footwear that can get wet. We will be visiting natural cave entrances, but not physically entering them, therefore WNS decontamination is not required. A comprehensive list suggesting a full range of items to bring to the course will be sent to all registered participants prior to the class.
Meals: All meals from Dinner on Monday May 20th to Breakfast on Friday May 24th are included with the registration fee. Please indicate with your registration if you require vegetarian meals. There is a small convenience store in Portal where food, beverages and other essentials can be purchased during limited hours. Other grocery stores and chain restaurants are 60-80 miles away in Willcox, San Simon, or Douglas AZ or in Lordsburg NM. The nearest gas stations are in San Simon or Lordsburg. Travelers should plan their food and fuel needs accordingly.