Bat Inventories of the National Capital Region Parks

Eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus) captured at Monocacy National Battlefield, 2004. This project, funded by the National Park Service, is aimed at developing an inventory of bat communities within 11 National Park Service units within Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The project is part of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program developed to establish baseline inventories of natural resources within parks and monitor long term ecosystem health.

Field Methods:

Mist nets, harp traps, and Anabat II bat detectors were used in fields, forests, riparian zones, and caves. Efforts included 365 mist net/harp trap nights at 74 locations and 362 locations monitoried with bat detectors. We captured 383 bats representing 6 different species. Bat calls were also collected and analyzed, which identified 7 species. Relative frequencies of some bat species varied according to park land cover, surrounding land use, and overlap of geographic ranges and park boundaries.

Eastern red bat captured at Catoctin Mountain Park, 2004.Research Highlights:

  • NCR National Parks contain habitat suitable for most bat species in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Reproduction and recruitment occur at most NCR National Parks, but vary among species and parks.
  • Northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), and to a lesser extent, little brown bats (M. lucifugus) were not as prevalent in urban parks, which may be a result of forest fragmentation or a consequence of surrounding development.
  • Acoustic monitoring consistently detected all species captured in mist nets and species that were not captured, therefore providing a more complete documentation of bat communities.


To Learn More:

Future Work :

  • We will be monitoring seasonal bat migration at Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland.
  • Several rare, threatened, and endangered bat species use abandoned coal mines at New River Gorge National River. We will assess extent of mine use during the fall swarm.

Project PI:

Dr. J. Edward Gates