Project Overview: Study how the interaction of humans and Yosemite’s 17 bat species 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 — their home in Yosemite. Bats account for over one-third of mammals in the Pacific West, yet relatively little is known about where large colonies of bats roost, sleep and 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 (WNS), 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.

This year: The study will address the paucity of data on how bats use the park and where bats and humans may co-occur along climbing routes. This will be accomplished by locating roosts and hibernacula — shelter where bats hibernate — along cliffs. Establishing baseline metrics of colony locations allows researchers to understand how bat populations are affected by increasingly severe climatic events (i.e. fire and drought), and the arrival of the fungal pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), causing WNS, which was detected in Inyo County in 2021. By gaining a better understanding of bat diversity today, we will be able to learn where to prioritize conservation efforts in the future.

Project Partners: Yosemite National Park, United States Geological Survey