Patterns of acoustical activity of bats prior to and 10 years after WNS on Fort Drum Army Installation, New York
Previous acoustic surveys, netting, and count data have shown that overall bat activity patterns have shifted among most species between pre- and post-white-nose syndrome (WNS) years in much of North America where WNS has occurred. However, the significance of these changes is based on the species-specific susceptibility to WNS. We used acoustically recorded echolocation passes obtained at Fort Drum, New York to describe changes in bat activity pre-WNS (2004-2007) to post-WNS (2008-2018). We examined seasonal and yearly changes in bat activity as they relate to the presence of WNS at hibernacula near (<25 km) Fort Drum. A priori, we expected that overall activity for communal hibernating species would be less in years following WNS, and migratory bats or those hibernating bats that are less affected by WNS would show no response or a positive response, due to niche relaxation/competitive release. Our results indicated both an overall and seasonal decrease in activity for Myotis spp. post-WNS. For WNS-susceptible species, our results reflect the high level of mortality in regional winter hibernacula post-WNS and possibly variable reproductive effort and recruitment thereafter. Although migratory bats did show increases in post-WNS activity throughout the summer, we found little evidence that community displacement was occurring on a nightly level by any species. The continuous spread of WNS across North America has had strong negative effects on bat populations of affected species, and our research identifies how individual species (both impacted and non-impacted) respond to WNS. Published by Elsevier B.V.