SI2023 – A-3 – Making sound waves in the North Atlantic: detecting the offshore bats of Sable Island using acoustic monitoring – Kayla Doucette

Collaborators: Dr. Andy Horn, Dr. Krista Patriquin

Organization: Dalhousie University (student)

Theme: Natural science (ecology, conservation, wildlife)

Format: Oral presentation

As Sable Island National Park Reserve approaches a decade of protection under Parks Canada’s mandate, new data on the island’s species composition is emerging and should be used to help guide future management plans. An ultrasonic autonomous recording unit was deployed for two years to determine if there was bat presence on Sable Island. By identifying echolocation passes captured on the unit, at least four species (Lasionycteris noctivagans, Lasiurus cinereus, Lasiurus borealis, and Myotis spp.) have been confirmed to visit the island. During the study period (2015- 2016), a total of 1721 echolocation passes were identified. Of the 32 nights that bats were detected on the island, Lasionycteris noctivagans (Silver-haired Bat) was present on 65% of nights; Lasiurus cinereus (Hoary Bat) was present on 6.25% of nights; Lasiurus borealis (Eastern Red Bat) was present on 25% of nights; and Myotis species were present on 53% of nights. All recordings were captured in the fall and early winter (September – December).

Previous research indicates that bat migratory movements to winter hibernacula south should occur
earlier in the year than this. Evidence of bat species on Sable Island, whether as a deliberate layover during migrations or due to external factors such as weather, highlights that bats may be an important
component of the island ecosystem to consider in future management plans as Sable Island moves into
the next decade of protection.

Kayla Doucette has spent several years working in Banff National Park using autonomous recording units, or ARUs, to research wildlife. At home in Nova Scotia, she used data collected by ultrasonic ARUs to listen in on the acoustic secrets of Sable Island and is excited to share what she discovered in one of Canada’s newest National Protected Reserves. Kayla is completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with a special interest in conservation and ecology, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.