Development of a Bat Guano and Acoustic Sampling Testing Protocol to Identify Species Occupying VDOT Bridges

The goal of this proposed study is to develop a reliable guano sampling and testing protocol to identify the species of bats occupying Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) structures. The objectives are to (1) Assess the accuracy of the DNA-based identification protocol from guano (historic and fresh) using ongoing watershed-level bat acoustic surveys or mist netting as a baseline comparison; (2) correlate bat species occupancy as derived from guano assessment with relative activity from acoustic monitoring at each site; (3) develop models of multi-bat species presence/predicted probability of occurrence relative to bridge type, riparian characteristics and surrounding landscape metrics singularly with DNA results and acoustic results and in combination with both techniques for southwest Virginia within and adjacent to the distribution of the gray bat, and (4) coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to refine these protocols as a means of verifying the presence/absence of protected bat species at VDOT structures.