Small mammals and bats are integral components of food webs. They are a primary food source for many predators and serve ecological functions such as seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. Despite their ecological importance, they receive less attention than other vertebrate groups. As a result, we generally lack comprehensive information on their ecology and conservation. More than 80 small mammal taxa have been described in Alaska, of which more than half are listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Many of these taxa depend on tundra or alpine ecosystems, which are under increasing threat from climate change.
Alaska Small Mammal Group
The Alaska Small Mammal Group is comprised of more than 50 small mammal researchers and enthusiasts, including agency biologists, academics and students from Alaska and Canada.
To foster collaborative research and conservation of Alaska’s diverse small mammal community.
- Have an annual meeting to share research and management updates.
- Produce an annual newsletter sharing all small mammal research in the state, taxonomic updates, and publications.
- Identify and periodically review the rank, urgency and goals of small mammal research within the state.
- Facilitate cross-taxa collaboration on small mammals in Alaska.
Current Research Projects
Learn more about small mammal research and conservation projects that are taking place around the state. Many of these projects are being led by state biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Threatened, Endangered, and Diversity Program.
Photo credits: little brown bat by Jes Reimer, collared pika by Arin Underwood (ADF&G), Alaska hare by Rick Merizon (ADF&G)
Past Newsletters & Agendas
2022 Newsletter, 2022 Meeting Agenda
2021 Newsletter, 2021 Meeting Agenda
In response to the arrival of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to Washington, the Alaska Center for Conservation Science initiated a bat maternity roost monitoring program during the summers of 2016. WNS is a disease that affects small, hibernating bat species during winter, and has a 90% mortality rate for infected colonies of the little brown myotis, the only bat species present in interior Alaska. It is currently present in 31 states and 5 Canadian provinces in eastern North America, has killed over 6 million bats to date. Since we do not have a good understanding of where bats in interior Alaska roost during winter, it is not possible to monitor winter hibernacula for the arrival of WNS. However, since female bats return to the same roost each summer, investigating and monitoring populations at these roost sites is the next best alternative.
During the summers of 2016 – 2018, we established a roost monitoring network with the goal of obtaining baseline population data and increasing our understanding of little brown myotis within the state. With the help of local residents, we located and surveyed 24 little brown myotis maternity roosts throughout Alaska including interior, south-central, the Kenai Peninsula, and Southeast Alaska. Our research included acoustic monitoring, capture surveys, roost temperature profiles, and radio telemetry to assess bat movements.
At the end of our three-year study, the ADF&G citizen science program took over the roost monitoring program by facilitating homeowners to count their bats once every summer to help monitor populations for the arrival of WNS. To sign up to participate in this program, see the ADF&G Citizen Science webpage.
In 2012, the Northern Bat Working Group was established to foster communication and collaboration among bat researchers in Alaska. The group currently has 75 members and is co-chaired by Marian Snively (ADF&G) and Jesika Reimer.