Bats are fascinating creatures and offer scientists a variety of opportunities for study. They occupy every continent on Earth except Antarctica, are the second most specious group of mammals, and are the only mammal capable of true flight. Bats provide fundamental services such as pollination and seed dispersal, as well as control of economically important pests of crops. Due their important service roles bats are also considered to be excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Unfortunately, bats are threatened by a number of human-related factors such as forest conversion, habitat fragmentation, and human development (e.g. wind energy facilities). In contrast, bats are also known contributors to several zoonoses including Hendra, Nipah, EBLV, rabies, and perhaps Ebola.
In this talk Stuart will highlight the variety of research conducted by my group over the past 20 years by focusing on three resent research strands: bioacoustics and the use of expert systems to identify bats from their echolocation calls, long-distance navigation by bats and the potential use of the Earth’s magnetic field, and the discovery of an (almost) unique mating system amongst bats. The talk will demonstrate how technological advances have assisted with the study of these cryptic nocturnal creatures and reveal new aspects of their fascinating biology.