Spotted bats (Euderma maculatum) are an elusive and widely-distributed species throughout the semi-arid deserts of North America. Sometimes called the “Oreo cookie bat,” they sport large, pink ears and spotted fur. Spotted bats roost high among sheer cliffs, but their clicking calls can be heard while they hunt for owlet moths in the canyons of Central Oregon.
The first spotted bat was “officially” documented in Oregon in 1979 when researchers in the Alvord Desert accidentally captured one in a mist net left open overnight. Only four more spotted bat records were reported in the state over the next 24 years, and the idea that spotted bats were extremely rare, or possibly even extirpated, took hold. In 2005, however, listening surveys combined with mist-netting surveys of Central Oregon revealed that spotted bats may be more abundant in the region than previously recognized.
Biologists still have limited understanding of spotted bat distribution and seasonal patterns in Oregon. What we do know is that their calls are most commonly heard near the canyons and cliffs of eastern Oregon’s High Desert.
We developed and tested a new method of public participation in the science and practice of bat conservation using aural surveys of audible bats. Our approach to integrating citizen science surveys into bat conservation programs can strengthen both the scientific understanding of rare species and public engagement in conservation practices. Our 2-year study succeeded in generating new insights about spotted bats habitat use in the region.
For more about this study and our findings, check out our publication in Conservation Science and Practice, available here.
This project would not have been possible without the help and support of our dedicated volunteers.
We hope to expand our search for the elusive spotted bat in the near future. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sara Rose to be added to our list of potential future volunteers.
For other ways to get involved in citizen science, check out CitSci.
Please note that there is no previous biology or backcountry knowledge required to become a community scientist. There are options for all physical abilities and outdoor experience.
For any questions, please contact Sara Rose, spotted bat volunteer coordinator. We appreciate your interest in the Spotted Bat Project.