Bat researchers are working on a project funded by the Friends of VI National Park to study the population of bats on St. John. The main purpose of the survey is to learn about bat recovery post hurricanes Irma and Maria, develop bioacoustic classifiers to identify local bat species, and expand bat research by training National Park service personnel in bat surveying and increase community outreach. The project is currently ongoing.
In an effort to develop data that can be used to further track bat populations, the researchers will place video cameras and bioacoustic recorders in survey locations to collect acoustic recordings of the bats. These recordings can be used to create species classifiers so that future researchers can process large amounts of audio data with acoustic analysis software to determine the different species within the data.
Video camera and bioacoustic recorder locations:
- Reef Bay Factory Ruins and Great House
- Petroglyph Pools
- Catherineberg Ruins
- Annaberg Ruins
- Cinnamon Bay Ruins
- Cinnamon Bay Gut
- Fish Bay Gut
There is a lot of bat activity at all the sites, so it will be interesting to see (or hear) who's out there!
Post Irma and Maria Population
Our local bats have shown a population decline since category five hurricanes, Irma and Maria, hit in September of 2017. The information from this study can be compared to information from bat populations studies that have been ongoing since 2006 to help us better understand how local bats are recovering after Irma and Maria.
On St. Thomas, the VI Bat Team has been doing monthly surveys at Magens Bay, but have not seen many fruit eating bats. This means that the fruit eating bats are a particular interest to the researchers on St. John.
Increasing Bat Research Capacity
To increase the bat research capacity in the Virgin Islands, the bat researchers for this project will be training National Park Service personnel, students of the University of the Virgin Islands, and other local entities in the practices of bat research. This will enable more people to conduct bat research. The researchers will also work to increase public knowledge about why bats are important to the Virgin Islands.
“We have a lot of bat activity at all the sites, so it will be interesting to see (or hear) who's out there!