The following is a guest blog post by M.S. student, Nick Goforth. You can also follow Nick on his own blog.
The second year of my Master’s is quickly coming to an end and it has been a very eventful one! I have completed all of my required classes, wrapped up my second season of fieldwork, got married, and am in the process of buying a house in Lubbock with my new wife. And in the middle of all that, I’ve been working through a mountain of data!!
Me and my new wife, Jessica Goforth, at our September wedding.
This year I got to spend two more months in the beautiful Jemez Mountains of wonderful New Mexico conducting acoustic surveys and mist netting bats. Luckily, we didn’t have another fire this year, so it was a pretty good field season! We also caught a lot more bats this year! Here are the overall bat activity levels from 2013 and 2014. These activity levels were determined using six Wildlife Acoustic SM2Bat+ recorders. We observed a shift in activity levels between treatments from 2013 to 2014.
Fig. 1 Overall bat activity levels in 2013 on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (Sites: LC=Las Conchas Wildfire (2011), TR=Thompson Ridge Wildfire (2013), UB=Unburned Forests).
|Fig. 2 Overall bat activity levels in 2014 on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (Sites: LC=Las Conchas Wildfire (2011), TR=Thompson Ridge Wildfire (2013), UB=Unburned Forests).|
In 2013 bats were more active at the Las Conchas study sites, but became more active at the Thompson Ridge study sites in 2014. This change is hypothesized to be caused by an influx of insects due to the growth of flowering plants and burned trees and an increased availability of roost sites following the Thompson Ridge Wildfire. I am currently working to determine how burn severity and forest type affects bat activity levels.
|Thompson Ridge study site in 2013|
|Thompson Ridge study site in 2014.|
After graduating in May of 2015, I plan to stay at Tech Tech to pursue my doctorate, also working with bats and wildfire.