Ruffner Mountain to hold Birmingham’s first bat survey

Birmingham Alabama
Photo from Ruffner Mountain

Next week, for the first time ever, Ruffner Mountain and the Alabama Bat Working Group​ will be holding a Birmingham area bat survey.

Upwards to 40 volunteers and students will be supporting the survey/Bioblitz and learning about bats and research efforts at Ruffner on  June 28th. Turkey Creek Nature Preserve will be holding a similar event on June 29th.

The surveys and events are made possible by the following sponsors and volunteers:

*  Vulcan Materials Company  (Taking care of lunch for the group on Wednesday the 28th.)
*  Trattoria Centrale (Providing lunch for the group on Thursday)
*  The Cahaba Group of the Sierra Club (made a contribution for gear needs of the group)
*  And of course the many volunteers that will run errands, escort researchers, direct traffic, and simply make the whole event run smoothly.

 

Birmingham Alabama
Photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
Research on white-nose syndrome

Recently, bat researchers from Kennesaw State University visited Ruffner Mountain to conduct research on the tricolored bat and how it is being affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS).

A devastating fungal disease that has greatly reduced tricolored bat populations in the eastern U.S. over the last 20 years, the research at Ruffner will be instrumental in the search to cure this debilitating disease and restore the tricolored bat to its rightful place in the great southeastern biome.

“Since Ruffner is a forest surrounded by neighborhoods, we have always been very interested in the wildlife species that are present in often overlooked environments,” stated Chivon Morse, Ruffner Moountain’s Wildlife Curator. This survey will bring insight into how bats are utilizing our urban green spaces within the Birmingham Metro and will help to inform continuing habitat management work on Ruffner and surrounding areas.”

White-nose syndrome​ is a fungal disease which affects the wings, nose, and other hairless parts of bats, and oftentimes, it is invisible to the naked eye. This particular fungus thrives in cold areas, such as the hibernacula, or winter resting place, of bats, posing a particularly urgent threat to these treasured fauna of the southeast, and the tricolored bat on Ruffner Mountain.

Typically, tricolored bats are found in open woods and near water edges and tend to use deep caves and mines as winter hibernacula. Perhaps due to their longer hibernation period, this species has been especially devastated by white-nose syndrome with some population in the northeast extirpated completely and a loss of 60-80% of individual bats throughout the WNS affected range.

Birmingham Alabama
Photo from Ruffner Mountain
Ruffner Mountain making a difference

Ruffner Mountain is working to mitigate the effects of white-nose syndrome by providing the tricolored bat population with safe habitat.

The Nature Center has partnered with the Alabama Mine Land Reclamation Organization to install new bat-gates at Mines No. 2 and No. 3. These new gates will prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome by humans, and protect visitors to Ruffner from potentially hazardous disused mining sites.

Along with the bat survey and environmental education efforts, Ruffner provides a living laboratory for researchers and educators.

Learn how you can participate by contacting Ruffner at 205.833.8264 or info@ruffnermountain.org .

 

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.