Millersville University and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Receive Research Grants

On behalf of the Kittatinny Coalition, Audubon Pennsylvania has awarded two grants to help support Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan. With this funding, Millersville University will monitor bat species and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will expand their Broad-winged Hawk research along the Kittatinny Ridge.

Dr. Aaron Haines at Millersville University will lead a collaborative effort with Bat Conservation & Management, Inc. to monitor, using remote devices, all SGCN bat species, including big brown, tricolored, northern long-eared (U.S. threatened), eastern small-footed (PA threatened), Indiana (U.S. and PA endangered), little brown and silver-haired, at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and several state parks. A permanent publicly accessible remote acoustic bat kiosk will be established at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, located on the Kittatinny Ridge. Ten years ago, the little brown bat, tricolored bat (formerly known as the eastern pipistrelle), and northern long-eared bat populations were common and widespread in Pennsylvania, and the federally endangered Indiana bat populations were increasing in Pennsylvania. In the last decade, populations of these bat species have declined dramatically due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease, causing regional extinctions of local populations. This project will help identify remaining populations and inform efforts to conserve healthy habitat for bats to roost, hibernate, forage for insects and access healthy freshwater.

Dr. Laurie Goodrich at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will use the grant to continue studying Broad-winged Hawk nesting and migration, habitat use, and connectivity throughout the life cycle for both males and females. The Broad-winged Hawk is the most abundant migrating raptor on the Kittatinny Ridge and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Understanding their habitat needs can inform future conservation planning. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary previously placed tags on six ridge-nesting female broadwings and followed them to wintering areas in South America measuring habitat use during all seasons. To-date no males have been tagged and male behavior and habitat use could differ. With this grant funding, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will trap nesting male Broad-winged Hawks and compare movement and habitat to females to provide a comprehensive understanding of this iconic species.

“We are very excited about these projects and collaboration between Millersville University, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Audubon Pennsylvania and other Kittatinny Coalition partners,” noted Jeanne Ortiz, Landscape Conservation Program Manager at Audubon Pennsylvania. “The results will help build our understanding of wildlife on the Ridge and the critical habitat that they rely on, ultimately informing our collective conservation efforts.”

For more information, please contact Jeanne Ortiz, Audubon Pennsylvania, at jortiz@audubon.org.

Photo of Brady courtesy of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Dr. Aaron Haines conducting active audio survey. Photo courtesy of Dr. Haines.

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