As we welcome Spring, millions of Mexican-free tailed bats return to Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, which is the largest bat colony in the world.
Bat Conservation International (BCI) is celebrating Women’s History Month by having daily features on different women that contribute to bat conservation! Follow this link to learn about the amazing work that women do for bats!
Follow this link to see the wonderful TED talk video about the benefits of bats http://www.ted.com/talks/emma_teeling_the_secret_of_the_bat_genome.html
Here is an interesting article about how bat research can benefit people. Written by Bat Conservation International.
Last Friday, Marina went to Harwell Elementary School here in Lubbock, to participate in their annual science fair. She was invited to give a presentation about bats to 2 third-grade classes. The kids really enjoyed the presentation and participated heavily by asking many questions. The main objective of the presentation was to introduce young kids to bats and dispel any misconceptions they may have about the true nature of bats. Many were surprised to learn that there are over 1,250 species of bats in the word and that there are bats right here in Lubbock. They also learned about how important bats are for pest control and pollination. After the presentation, the students were given a small leaflet containing information about Texas bats (created by Kaitlin) and a double-sided coloring page where they learned more about The Mexican Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) and the Brazilian Free-tailed bat ( Tadarida brasiliensis). It was wonderful interacting with the students and we hope to do the same talk to a new group of third-graders next year!
Last Thursday Dr. Kingston, Marina, and Kaitlin attended a field trip to Carlsbad Caverns sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). The society is having their 22nd annual meeting in Lubbock and wanted to learn more about karst ecosystems and the importance of bats (since nearly 1 million Brazilian free-tailed bats call Carlsbad home!). As an invited speaker, Dr. Kingston shared information about her work with bats in Malaysia and more general information about the benefits and threats to bats. Dr. George Veni was also an invited speaker, he represented the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, which is one of the world’s premier cave research institutions. The attendees of the field learned lots of interesting information about the importance of karst research and of course bats! Please enjoy some of our photos from the event.
Last weekend we braved the chilly weather and headed off to Clarity Tunnel (part of the Caprock Canyons State Park and on the Caprock Canyons Trailway) to net for Tadarida brasiliensis.
The objective was capture individuals and record their echolocation calls when we released them – this is how we slowly build up a library of reference calls for the acoustic transects. We met up with Dr Ray Matlack from WTAMU who has been working there for many years monitoring the populations, and he gave us a few pointers, so we had a harp trap suspended over the tunnel and two mistnets in the tunnel.
The bats weren’t very active because it was so cold, but we did manage to catch over 25 individuals in the mist-nets, which kept us busy. We got decent recordings from a good number of them the next morning when we released them.
Marina went out to find more bats last night. It was a point count night so we stopped at our 5 set points. We heard bats at three of the five spots! There were even some feeding buzzes over a cotton field. We also saw other nocturnal wildlife including a skunk, raccoon, and deer.
Tonight Marina and Kaitlin did their driving transect and good news! They heard bats. Around Dunbar Historical Lake and around some crop fields the winged folk flew. Tomorrow will be their third and final one for this week. Hopefully they’ll hear even more
Last night Marina and Kaitlin went out on an acoustic transect, meaning they took a detector that can pick up bat sounds and went listening for our flying friends. This particular transect they went on has set places where they stopped and set the detector on top of the car for 10 and listened for bats. Unfortunately last night there were no bats to be found. This might be due to the chilly weather last night that average around the mid 60’s.
Tonight they will go out again, this time on a driving acoustic transect. On a planned route, they will drive at about 20 mph with the detector recording continuously the entire time. Hopefully there will be some bats tonight!