In 2014, the Miistakis Institute hosted a Citizen Science Conference, exploring this diverse field with sessions on program design, evaluation, policy implications, technology and applications in parks and protected areas. This links to the website that chronicled that event.
Speaker Bio: Cory Olson is a wildlife biologist and Program Coordinator for the Alberta Community Bat Program, which he helped start in collaboration with WCS Canada and the Government of Alberta. He is leading the development of several public outreach and education projects relating to bats and other wildlife, including a citizen science project to collect information on roosting bats.
He first got involved with bats at the University of Calgary, where he completed an MSc degree focusing on bat ecology. Over the last 10 years, he has been involved with several bat research and monitoring projects in western Canada.
Poster abstract: Going Bats for Bats: bat roost monitoring using citizen science
Bats are among the most common and abundant wildlife in human communities. Some bat species have come to rely on anthropogenic structures, such as barns and attics, as sites for roosting and rearing offspring. In some areas, these sites may support the majority of the bat population, representing critical habitat for bats that needs to be managed as part of bat conservation and recovery strategies. As these locations are typically on private land, public participation is important for managing bats.
An exotic invasive fungus, which cases white-nose syndrome in bats, is causing catastrophic declines in North America’s hibernating bat populations and is expected to reach Alberta. Affected species include the Little Brown Bat, which is Alberta’s most common bat and the most likely to occupy buildings.
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada began the Alberta Community Bat Program in 2015 to promote bat conservation and to use citizen science to collect much-needed information on bats in human communities. The public is encouraged to submit roost observations and provide annual monitoring. Participants are asked to provide a guano (bat poop) sample, which allows reliable, inexpensive genetic species identification. Reports can be made directly to the program, or through a partner organization.
Public submissions will be used to better understand the use of buildings by bats and to contribute to bat monitoring through the North American Bat Monitoring Program.
Identified roost sites are also important as potential locations for administering potential probiotic treatments for white-nose syndrome, which are currently in development.