Bats are enigmatic species with a voracious appetite for insect pests, saving billions of dollars per year by enhancing agriculture and forest productivity. This is significant when considering the long lifespan and low fecundity of the Little Brown Myotis, Myotis lucifugus (MYLU). COSEWIC reported Canada as representing ~50% of the global range of MYLU before the arrival of White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Since then, COSEWIC cites a >90% decline of infected MYLU hibernacula in eastern Canada. In 2016 WNS was recorded in Washington State.
The Lehigh Hanson Cadomin Quarry is in an ideal location to provide enhanced biodiversity management on site for two federally endangered species; MYLU and Northern Myotis, Myotis septentrionalis (MYSE). Healthy artificial roosts support population recovery, and promote a first defense in building adequate fat reserves that assist in overwintering survival. With options that stabilize thermal cycling throughout the roosting period, behavioral thermoregulation lessens, resulting in healthier bats that may survive additional waking periods linked to WNS.
We will design, engineer, and test bat houses to optimize spring and summer thermal regulation. Classic bat houses will be tested against our prototypes in an environmental chamber. Finally, we will establish bat houses on the quarry lease to field-test our designs. This project will position Lehigh Hanson as a leader in providing suitable roosting habitat for the endangered Myotis species.

RULING THE ROOST - Bat House Placements. Eyes Open and Feet on the Ground - No Echolocation Here!

On May 3rd, 2018 a few of our team members took a day trip to the Cadomin Limestone Quarry to meet the Site manager, Operations staff and assess possible placement locations of the bat houses. Upon arrival, the team completed a site Risk assessment and safety briefing lead by Brent Korobanik, followed by a tour of the Quarry site and surrounding bat habitat. During the tour, the positioning logistics of each bat house was discussed, to ensure the boxes receive optimal daily sun exposure.

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07May

RULING THE ROOST - Barely blind as a bat: the extent of acoustic detection

Microbats use echolocation to feed and to navigate. This is accomplished through contractions of laryngeal muscles, which emit high frequency sound. The vocalizations then hit a target and return to the bats outer ear in order to reveal the item’s location. Echolocation frequency ranges are species-specific; thus, different bat species emit different echolocation frequencies. MYLU and MYSE emit vocalizations of ~40 kHz and ~80-120 kHz, respectively.

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13Apr

RULING THE ROOST - Extra! Extra! Read all about it! 24hr PCM thermal data showing promise!

Breaking News from the NAIT Mechanical Engineering lab: PCM roost out performs all other traditional houses in our 24 hour test cycle. BTECH students present preliminary data at Capstone Showcase 2018. Team members quoted saying "My stoic personality prevents me from displaying excitement, but this data is exciting and it's only the beginning!"

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10Apr

RULING THE ROOST - Building a Better Bat Box (House)

In order to put our prototypes to the test, we needed to construct three traditional bat houses we could test against in the environmental chamber. The traditional designs built included a single chamber, multi chamber and rocket box. As we have employed the concept of adaptive management and thermoregulation into our prototypes, we wanted to observe the variance between each of the three traditional designs against our prototype in a controlled setting.

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10Apr

RULING THE ROOST - Do you have bats in the belfry? Know your identification.

Enigmatic microfauna – hand-wing mammals – microbats – or simply bats, no matter how you reference them, they are often viewed through a vail of uncertainty and sometimes fear. Did you know that these Alberta microbats (averaging 8.5g) can eat upwards of 900 insects/hour. Not only are they voracious feeders clearing the way of mosquitoes, they are estimated to have nearly $53 Billion in economic benefits through the consumption of agricultural and forest pest insects globally.

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06Apr

RULING THE ROOST - How can I be a batsaver as well?

Although bats have been misrepresented and misunderstood for many years, they have a new reputation as they resolutely patrol the night sky searching for insect pests. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and various other groups estimate the global economic savings related to bats approaches nearly $53 Billion/year. Keeping the ecological balance is important and you can support some of your local bats with properly designed and placed bat houses.

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04Apr

RULING THE ROOST - Roosting Rationale

Roosts are areas where bats rest or sleep; these can be in caves, trees, or anthropogenic structures. Roosting behavior occurs as daily resting, maternity and hibernation purposes. Depending on the time of the year, bats require different roosting conditions.

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01Apr

RULING THE ROOST - Insolcorp Building Comfort Without Energy.

Infinite R is a phase change material that has the potential to revolutionize bat house design. Mick Dunn, President of Insolcorp.com and most recent partner with the team, has created a short video to explain the basics of PCM and how it can be a benefit to thermal stability in our homes. If we can add thermal stability to our own homes, then why not scale down to work with bat houses in Cadomin, Alberta, Canada.

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30Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Expanding the team with new partners.

Our team is proud to announce a new partner on our project: INSOLCORP. Our newest project partner will potentially solve our roosts' environmental fluctuation and low thermal mass challenges. (http://www.insolcorp.com). We look forward to working with their amazing phase-change material products. Welcome to the project INSOLCORP!

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29Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Testing the traditional bat houses.

We are employing the concept of adaptive management and adjusting the prototypes based on the performance of traditional bat houses in the environmental chamber. The ultimate goal is to minimize the thermal fluctuation and create a stable internal environment that reduces the metabolic needs of the MYLU specifically. The more we learn about microclimates inside the traditional houses the more responsive we can be with our prototype development.

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22Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Adaptation and Adjustment - Version 3.0

After a considerable amount of time in the design and planning phase, the team has put forth Version 2.0 and now a Version 3.0. The Modifications have incorporated solar, passive insulation, and positioning considerations. Moving closer and closer towards a functional design for placing at the quarry site in the Spring!

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22Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Direct NAIT program involvement

As a polytechnic NAIT is very proud of the initiatives that occur across all of our campus locations. Students are the driving force for many extra-curricular projects on campus and the bulk of our team comes from: NAIT Biological Sciences Technology - Renewable Resources ; NAIT Alternative Energy Technology and NAIT Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management. Thank you for bringing your passion and energy to the project everyone!

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19Mar

RULING THE ROOST - The Fungal Felon: White Nose Syndrome

White Nose Syndrome is a serious concern across North America, causing mortalities of thousands of North American bats. It is currently more of a problem in the United States and the Eastern portion of Canada but is slowly making its way across the continent. COSEWIC reported Canada as representing ~50% of the global range of MYLU before the arrival of WNS, and since then, COSEWIC cites a >90% decline of infected MYLU hibernacula, suggesting a loss of 5.7-6.7 million bats in eastern Canada.

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17Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Importance of microbats – Happy Hibernacula

Bats are enigmatic microfauna that evoke human responses swayed by cultural superstition and myth. Their voracious appetite for insect pests enhances agriculture and forest productivity, saving billions of dollars per year. In order to be this incredible foraging force bats require stable places to roost during seasons of low temperatures and low insect presence.

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16Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Prototype Design Version 1.0

Our first attempt to develop a thermally optimized bat house incorporated a thermosiphon and copper exchange plate. The concept is sound; however, the implementation and goal of the compact house design was compromised due to the inability to regulate the top end of heating cycles.

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15Mar

RULING THE ROOST - Introducing the Team

Our team is comprised of student volunteers pursuing training at the diploma and degree level within The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), one support staff and myself as the principle investigator. The core team consists of Hafida Aissiou, Ronnie Caron, Csilla Harsasi, Krystal Hartog, Jenna Hlewka, Cyril Kaderabek, Quintin Laschuk, Eric Lastiwka, Daniel Monaco, Rose Murawsky, Taylor Thomeus, Bianca Unrau, and Cassandra Walker.

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13Mar

RULING THE ROOST– Out of the Bat Cave

This Lehigh Hanson Quarry Life award project involves the race to save Alberta Bats through the development of thermally stable and healthy roosts or bat houses. These roosts will be placed in locations that will augment spring and fall forays away from the hibernacula (overwintering location) and potentially provide warm roosting locations. This project is a natural extension of numerous years of data collection and research related to bat hibernacula locations in Western Canada.

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13Mar