Be a Bat Researcher

Posted by Laurie Sullivan at 5/22/2010 8:00:00 AM

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 of the of techniques. We caught the bats in nets and then measured the wingspan and weight. Next we sorted the bats 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 bats eat. Some groups also sorted by wing size, ear size, and where the bats find their food. Dr. Elizabeth Kalko feeding a bat sugar waterDr. Kalko Feeding the Bat Sugar Water Bat Guilds (Groups) on Barro Colorado Island Panama DSC04213 DSC04132 DSC04163 DSC04161 We put a model 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 discovered 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.

DSC04140

DSC04139

DSC04221

DSC04138

DSC04236

DSC04170

Echolocation Song on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DHr-Y2Tt8gFE%26NR%3D1 See more photos of the student bat researchers in action by clicking here.