ISU Bat Center Director, Dr. Joy O’Keefe, was the author of a recent blog post on the new Save the Bats blog hosted by the Organization for Bat Conservation. If you are interested in Indiana bats or bats of Indiana, click on the Indiana bat to get to the post!
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) photo by Caroline Byrne, M.S.
Bat Center at SBDN 2016 L to R: Scott Bergeson, Julia Hoeh, Tim Divoll, Brianne Walters, Vanessa Rojas, Joy O’Keefe, Jordan Holmes
Spring is always busy with hiring for bat season and this one is no exception. Whether you are a seasoned biologist or a novice, we have some bat postings for you over on our Bat Jobs page. Bookmark this link to keep tabs on the latest bat jobs!
Jess Carlstrom with her first Raf bat in Summer 2015
As we approach the end of 2015, you may be thinking about ways to contribute to bat conservation. I personally believe that education is critical to environmental awareness and conservation, so the Bat Center spends a significant amount of time conducting programs where we work (we talked to more than 3000 people in 2015). While we rarely ask for donations, your support is actually critical to the longevity of the ISU Bat Center! We depend ENTIRELY on grant funding (for staff salaries, travel, and supplies) and my students and I volunteer our personal time for most of our outreach events. If you’d like to contribute to support the Bat Center’s outreach, including our 10th Annual Indiana Bat Festival in Sept 2016 (free!), please follow the instructions on this page. It will take no more than 5 minutes for you to make a donation. We appreciate every dollar donated and promise to use your funds wisely to pay for supplies for kids’ activities, speaker fees for the Bat Festival, and staff salaries.
Director, Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation
Some fascinating new information on the taxonomic relationships of bats in the genus Lasiurus, the hairy tailed vespertilionid bats. Amy Baird and others have determined that yellow bats merit their own genus, Dasypterus. Red bats maintain claims on the Lasiurus genus. While hoary bats are still considered a sister taxon to Lasiurus, the authors found they should be in a new genus–Aeorestes. And that’s not all! Work by Russell et al. (PLoS One, 2015) had previously demonstrated that hoary bats invaded Hawaii multiple times. Baird and other show that there are two extant Aeorestes species in Hawaii. You can find Baird’s paper in the latest Journal of Mammalogy issue.
To compare the bats in these three genera, check out the Lasiurus photo gallery on Michael Durham’s page.
Male eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), Photographed near the Conasauga River in the Chattahoochee-Oconee Natonal Forest, Georgia. By Michael Durham.
Bats are an excellent topic of conversation, anytime! We suggest you share these facts with your friends and family over your holiday dinner. Where will the conversation go from here?!
- There are over 1300 species of bats in the world, which is one-fifth of all mammal species.
- Fourteen species of bats have been found in Indiana; two may have been extirpated. Take a guess at the number in your area using the Chiroptera map from Biodiversity Global.
- Bats are the only mammals capable of true powered flight.
- In a single night, a bat can eat up to 100% of its body weight in insects, including many agricultural and human pests.
- Bats pollinate at least 528 different species of plants, including agave, which is the primary ingredient in tequila.
- Only 3 species of bats eat blood. Vampire bats are found from Mexico to South America. They take blood meals from birds and large mammals, like cattle.
- Most bat species can live to be 10-30 years old. A bat in Russia was documented at more than 40 years old! Most female bats have only 1 pup per year, which is very different from other small mammals.
- Fewer than 1% of bats carry rabies.
- Not all bats echolocate—Old World fruit bats lack the ability to use true echolocation, though some fruit bats in Africa use tongue clicks in the same way that blind people navigate.
- Bats use a variety of roosts, including but not limited to: caves, trees, rock crevices, bridges, attics, leaf litter, and bat houses.
Big brown bat eating a carrion beetle. Photo by Dylan Horvath
Congratulations to Bat Center student Caroline Byrne, who defended her M.S. thesis on Friday. Caroline first started working with me in 2009, at which time she already had a strong drive to study the social behavior of bats. In 2013, she began her Master’s at ISU, working with a well-studied population of Indiana bats near Plainfield, IN. With known roosts and intense monitoring already a regular part of our project, it was relatively simple for Caroline to implement a study on the social behavior of a wild population of Indiana bats, which no one has ever done. Of course, developing a quantitative description of their behaviors took a bit more work, but Caroline was up to the task! Her innovative study has earned her regional and national presentation awards and she was invited to speak to the Acoustical Society of America in November. Caroline has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the endangered Indiana bat and I know she’ll continue to advance our understanding of bats in her future work. –J. O’Keefe
Congratulations to Bat Center PhD candidate, Scott Bergeson, who successfully passed his comprehensive exams today. Scott is now one step closer to completing his PhD on the roosting ecology of the federally endangered Indiana bat. Scott is a fantastic teacher and researcher and he loves sharing his knowledge of bats with people of all ages!
Vampire bats, known to be highly social and altruistic, spend more time grooming each other than other types of bats! Cool research conducted by an undergraduate student and Dr. Gerry Carter. Read the whole story here at PLoS One or here on Gerry’s blog.
The 9th Annual Indiana Bat Festival was a great success! Over 1000 people visited us during the combined day and nighttime portions of the festival. Live bats and live raptors are always a hit, but folks were also excited about the great kids’ activities, exploring the inflated cave, running the BatVentures course at Dobbs Park, facepainting, and more! We are so grateful to all the volunteers and sponsors who helped make this FREE festival possible. We look forward to seeing you all again next year. More photos on the Bat Festival page.