Bats and Biology

Instructor: Dr. Jerry Wilkinson, Department of Biology



In this two-day seminar I will introduce the class to the biology of bats in general, and in particular to learn which species of bats occur in the Chesapeake Bay region. With over 1,000 species, bats represent the second most diverse order of mammals on the planet. Perhaps because most of these species fly at night and live in tropical regions, they are less well known than other groups of mammals.  This seminar will explore how bats have been used to understand a variety of biological processes with particular relevance to humans, such as aging, echolocation, energetics, epidemiology, evolution, cooperation, and reproduction, and will discuss recent cases where bats have been in the news, such as white-nose syndrome, bats and wind turbines, and bat-transmitted rabies.  Some of the seminar time will be spent discussing laboratory-type exercises that could be used in secondary school classrooms. An optional field trip will be taken after the first day to make ultrasonic recordings of bats hunting for insects. Participants will have the opportunity to use specialized, but easily available, software to analyze the bat echolocation vocalizations and learn how they can be used to help identify different species.

Seminar Readings

Tuttle, M.D.  2005  America's Neighborhood Bats: Understanding and Learning to Live in Harmony with Them. Second Edition.  University of Texas Press, Austin.

For April 16




Topic Display PDF
Evolution, diversity & distribution of bats PPT PDF
Energetics, hibernation & migration (white-nose and turbines) PPT PDF
Public health & conservation (rabies) PPT PDF
Life history & longevity (aging) PPT PDF


For April 30



Topic Display PDF
Echolocation and hearing PPT PDF
Coevolution PPT PDF
Reproduction and mating PPT PDF

Useful web sites

Bat Conservation International

North American Symposium on Bat Research (organizes annual meetings on bat research)

Pettersson Electronik (makes best bat detectors)

Sonobat (software for analyzing bat sounds)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Raven sound analysis software)

The Lubee Foundation (rear endangered bats, near Gainesville)

Titley Scientific (makers of ANABAT bat detectors)

Sample bat recordings (expanded 10x in time)

Eptesicus fuscus feeding buzz (Bat4, recorded in College Park, MD, April 26, 2009 @ 2030)

Red bat (?) search calls (Bat7, recorded in College Park, MD, over Paint Brand Creek, April 26, 2009 @ 2030)