Be a Bat Researcher

Posted by Laurie Sullivan at 11/24/2008 7:20:00 PM

Second graders participated in a simulation to study bats on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama rainforest. This rainforest has many species of bats. We watched a video to learn the methods researchers use to study these flying mammals. We saw Dr. Elizabeth Kalko use many tools and techniques in her research. Then we tried some the of techniques. We caught the bats in nets and measured them. Then we sorted them into groups called guilds (that is what the researchers use to classify bats). We sorted by attributes such as color, size, and type of food the bat eats. Some groups also sorted by wing size, ear size, and where the bats find their food.

Dr. Elizabeth Kalko feeding a bat sugar water

Dr. Kalko Feeding the Bat Sugar Water

Dr. Kalko shows the bat wing

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Sorting by Size

Mrs. Hines

Bat Guilds (Groups) on Barro Colorado Island Panama

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We put a model of radio transmitter on a bat. We used an antenna to track the bat. We found the bat’s home. It was in a termite nest! The researchers in Panama found out that the bats hollow out the termite nest to make it their home. It was a surprise because most bats do not make their own homes. We also used the radio transmitter on the bat to find out if a bat was flying or resting. There were slow beeps if the bat was resting and medium beeps when it was flying and really fast beeps when it was catching the prey. The student holding the antenna had to analyze the data (the beeps) to infer what the bat was doing.

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Bat found in pretent termite nest

A student flies her bat with the radio transmitter around the room, with pauses to show the bat resting.

A student explains how he organized the bat classification data for his group