The habitats in areas like the Northern Great Plains of North America present challenges to bat researchers in the field. Due to limited vegetative cover, mist-netting efforts often must be concentrated over ponds, streams or rivers. This can present problems to researchers, such as deep water, soft mud bottoms or uneven terrain, all of which can make traditional mist netting difficult and unproductive. While boats can be useful under these circumstances, this leads to additional safety and logistical challenges. The purpose of this study was to address these problems by developing a novel tool that permits sampling with mist nets over water without the need to directly enter the water. We developed a basic conceptual design for a mechanical gate-like support system that: 1) supports a traditional mist net system, and 2) swings out over a body of water. Initial results indicate that the over-water mist net support system is an effective, versatile research tool that allows researchers to sample for bats under challenging field conditions in which placement of traditional mist net systems would be dangerous or not feasible.
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