Trick and Treaters aren’t the only ones excited about the end of October.
Bat Week which coincides with the lead up to Halloween is also a time for people to become more aware of their local bat species.
Residents of the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin region now have the opportunity to get excited about bats and participate in a new citizen science project…but these are not ordinary bats…they are microbats!.
Scientists from the South Australian Museum has recently been awarded a citizen science grant, funded by the Australian Government under the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme, the grant will enable the Museum to partner with the community and collect information on the lives of the microbats of the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin region.
Microbats are the mouse-sized, mostly insectivorous bats, and not the large fruit eating bats that have taken up residence in Botanic Park.
Very little is known about the 16 microbat species that occur in the region.
To uncover the secrets of these mega important critters, the bat scientists will be running the Mega Murray-Darling Microbat Project.
The Museum is partnering with the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board, the University of South Australia and local Landcare associations, to teach community members how to survey for bats using the latest technology.
Ultrasonic bat detectors called AnaBats will be available for loan to record the calls of bats flying past during the night.
Each species has an individual call pattern when it uses echolocation to catch prey.
From these recordings the scientists can tell which species were present.
Community members can also take notes and a photo of the site they are surveying using an App on their Smart Phone.
Dr Kyle Armstrong from the South Australian Museum, says ‘Providing large numbers of local people with the tools to survey for bats in their own backyards and local reserves will give us much needed information on which species occur where and the kinds of habitat they prefer.
For many microbat species we don’t even really know whether they are threatened or not.’
‘We hope this citizen science model will also be able to be transferred across the border into Victoria and New South Wales.’
Don Lester from Tanunda has been assisting with bat monitoring as a citizen science volunteer for over ten years and says, ‘It connects me with local community and making bat box kits allows me to help other people provide shelter for bats where tree hollows are no longer present’.
‘I enjoy being part of projects like this as it allows me to combine my interests of conservation, education and woodwork’.
Mid Murray Landcare Officer Aimee Linke has been running a smaller scale community bat monitoring program in her local area for many years and is looking forward to the expansion of the community survey effort, ‘We are hoping that more people will be able to join us in managing the land to live in harmony with these cryptic beasties of the night’.
The project is now ready for any interested citizens in the SA Murray-Darling Basin region to contribute.
Contact Jacqui Wilson on 8536 5617 to book an Anabat bat detector you use in your yard.