Alberta Community Bat Program Citizen Science Project

little brown bat roosting group

Maternity roosts are locations where female bats raise their pups during the summer. These groups range anywhere from a single bat, up to well over a thousand individuals. Males typically roost alone during the summer, so if you find a group of bats, it is most likely to be a maternity colony.

Structures supporting maternity roosts are important resources for bats, and have a strong influence on juvenile growth and survival. Documenting the location and status of maternity roosts is an important component of managing and studying bat populations. However, roosts are seldom reported, and there are substantial gaps in our understanding of habitat use by bats.

Because many (and possibly even the majority) of roosts are in human structures, public participation is critical for the success of research and monitoring programs. If you have bats – or have a place for a bat house – considering participating in the Alberta Community Bat Program’s citizen science project. Observations will contribute to a provincial and national roost reporting database.


How to Participate

Step 1 – Find or Build a Roost

document roost

Before you can begin, you need to know of the location of a bat roost.

Suitable roosts include groups of bats using:
» Building, such as in an old barn, attic, under siding, etc.
» Bridges
» Tree crevices or under bark
» Rock crevices or caves
» Bat houses
» Any other structure with bats

Don’t know of a bat roost? Then install a bat house, and let us know how it does (even reports of non-use are important).


Step 2 – Document the Roost

build a roost

For instructions and forms, see the draft protocols and forms for documenting and monitoring roosts.

Don’t want to submit a full report?
You can instead email your observations to roostreports@albertabats.ca, along with:
» Location (GPS coordinates and general location description preferred)
» Date
» Brief description of the roost and signs of bat activity
» Any other details you think are important
» Photos, if available



Step 3 – Collect a Guano Sample

build a roost

If you are able to send us a guano sample (i.e., bat poop), we may be able to have it tested to see what species is using the roost (funds permitting).

Read the protocols for how to collect bat guano for DNA testing.

Do not place guano in a plastic bag – it needs air flow! Use a paper envelope instead. Try to sample guano deposited during the current year.



Step 4 – Tell Us About It

build a roost

You can send us your information using one of the following options:

» Submit your reports using the online form (preferred).

» Email a scanned (or photographed) version of your forms to roostreports@albertabats.ca

» Don’t want to submit a formal report? Just email roostreports@albertabats.ca and we will follow up.
Please include the location of the roost and a short description of your observations


Step 5 – Provide Ongoing Monitoring

build a roost

Ongoing monitoring of your roost provides valuable data needed for assessing bat populations in Alberta. If possible, we encourage participants to count bats exiting from roosts one to four times during the summer period.

For instructions and forms, see the draft protocols and forms for documenting and monitoring roosts.

» Submit your monitoring reports using the online form (preferred).

» Alternatively, submit your monitoring reports by email.

Reports of roosts are greatly appreciated, even if ongoing monitoring is not planned.