Project Overview: Assess the unprecedented threats to Yosemite’s 17 bat species  from both climate change and invasive diseases — by tracking and monitoring populations and studying how the interaction of humans and bats are potentially influencing the spread and severity of white-nose syndrome, a disease decimating bat populations throughout North America.

How your support helps: Bats save the US economy $23 billion in pesticide usage every year and are essential pollinators to many agricultural crops. 17 species of bats — including five designated by California as “Species of Special Concern” — make their home in Yosemite. Bats account for more than one-third of mammals in the Pacific West, yet relatively little is known about where large colonies of bats roost, sleep, raise their young, or hibernate in the Sierra. Improving knowledge of bat distribution will assist in understanding how bat ecology and human interaction influence the spread and severity of white-nose syndrome, a disease decimating bat populations throughout North America, as well as the impacts of climate-driven landscape changes at scales within and beyond park boundaries, as some species travel up to 200 miles in one night. 

With your support, the study addresses the paucity of data on how bats use the park and where bats and humans may co-occur along climbing routes. This is accomplished by locating roosts and hibernacula — shelters where bats hibernate — along cliffs.  

Because our Cliffside Ecology Unit contains specialized climber biologists, and Yosemite hosts thousands of climbers every year, we are well poised to continue assisting visitors in celebrating and protecting Yosemite’s biodiversity, mapping the park’s distribution of bats, and finding roosts to bolster foundational knowledge of western bat ecology and the effects of white-nose syndrome. 

This year: In 2024, this project takes a giant leap forward, building on previous success using the schematic of find, compile, educate, and collaborate. By gaining a better understanding of bat diversity today, we will be able to learn where to prioritize conservation efforts in the future. Additionally, we will provide visitor outreach on bats role in ecosystems at park events, such as United in Yosemite, Pride, Facelift, Ask a Climber, and Climber Coffee.

Project Partners: Yosemite National Park, United States Geological Survey