United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) Environmental Science & Research Department was awarded a $500,000 Grant from USDA-NIFA-Tribal College Research Area of Expertise (TCRAE) to study the ecology of Bats in North Dakota.

The Environmental Science department has been monitoring the health of bats and their impact on the state’s agriculture for approximately 10 years.  The new TCRAE award is focused on monitoring population stability, habitat and potential declines.  This proves to be a timely area of research as White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungus that is killing off bat populations, moves into North Dakota. WNS was reported to have reached North Dakota in early August.  Knowledge of the distribution and habitat requirements of these various bat species and the roles they play in the ecosystem with help with conservation efforts and mitigation plans if their population does decline.

UTTC students Berlin West, (Cheyanne River) Amy Jackson, (Navajo Nation) and Kimberly Blevins (MHA Nation) have been busy this summer as student researchers of the grant.  Berlin’s project is focusing on a less invasive way for the bats to be identified using DNA from guano and tissue samples.   Amy is using the bat guano to look at the viruses that are carried by bats.  Kim is using two different techniques to monitor the benefits bats have on agricultural in North Dakota.

At the end of the summer, students will compile their results and share them at several regional and national conferences.

At the end of the semester, students will compile research and results and be able to present their findings.