Coastal Grant Initiates Bat-Monitoring Towers across Pennsylvania

The Takeaway: Approximately 50 monitoring towers provide the “missing link” in bat migration data—a must for Lake Erie offshore planning—and NOAA, the Pennsylvania Coastal Program, and Texas Tech made the first two towers possible.

Until recently, little was known about how and where bats migrate over Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastal region. Construction of the state’s first two monitoring towers gave scientists a whole new understanding of Lake Erie bat migration patterns—essential data for conservation and potential offshore wind plans—and led to about 50 towers being built statewide. That state “first” was made possible by NOAA, the Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program, and Texas Tech.

Before tower construction, scientists wondered whether bats on long migrations flew over Lake Erie or remained along the shoreline. A NOAA grant administered by Pennsylvania’s Coastal Resources Management Program enabled Texas Tech to build the first two towers in the coastal zone, install the international MOTUS Wildlife Tracking System, and tag 102 bats digitally during the first fall and spring migration. Data confirmed that the migrating bats flew across Lake Erie in both seasons. Surprisingly, they did not follow a consistent migratory corridor but flew across the lake from many points and pathways.

The funding of the first two towers was the catalyst needed for other organizations throughout the state to invest in scores of additional tracking towers. Tower technology not only fills data gaps in bat research and potential offshore plans but can track birds as well, adding value to the data collection. (2019)

More Information: Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Partners: NOAA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Resources Management Program, and Texas Tech