An Unexpected Adventure at Trinity River

Having now been an intern at Trinity River NWR now for a little over half a year now, I have grown accustomed to the ecosystem that the refuge protects which is the bottomland hardwood forests in East Texas. Forest work comes with certain surveying that you already have in mind when you think of a forest, such as tree surveys or bird surveys because they use the trees. But another survey was to be done at this refuge that myself and others may not think about when they think about forest ecology: bat surveys!

The annual bat surveys that we conducted at Trinity River NWR, bat acoustical monitoring mobile surveys to be exact, were an exciting surprise to me. These surveys were to be done at sundown and were conducted by actually securing a microphone on top of a vehicle and driving around the refuge. The microphone would pick up echolocation clicks of bats and save them onto a box receiver it was hooked up to. These calls would then be sent to a bat lab where they identify different bat species based on their specific echolocation calls.

Learning about the bat species at the refuge I work at and that they are important enough to the ecosystem to survey for is an experience I will remember for the rest of my career. The bat species that Trinity River NWR focus on is the Rafinesque Big-Eared Bat that is currently threatened in the state of Texas. Hopefully surveys such as these can help future populations of this bat species and ultimately the overall health of the bottomland hardwood forest that we protect here in East Texas.

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