Monday, June 11, 2012

Biology Professor Merrill Tawse takes part in bat survey

Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat, captured
by mist net in Florida
Professor Merrill Tawse is well known as one of the State of Ohio's foremost bat experts.  But this past month he worked as a team leader for a "Bat Blitz" in the Apalachicola National Forest in the Florida panhandle.  Along with 10 other team leaders Professor Tawse led groups of volunteers using mist nets to identify local bats and determine which species occur in the national forest.  Much of the trapping occurred in cypress swamps, where hollow cypress trees can be used as bat roosting sites.

Professor Tawse wrote:
A hollow cypress tree and
potential bat roosting site
"Getting back into some very remote sections of this land of gators, bears and a variety of snakes with “super spit” (venomous), the 11 team leaders and their crews ranging in size from four to ten people caught 246 bats of 8 different species, making this the most comprehensive bat survey ever conducted in the state of Florida.   Exciting finds included the Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) and the Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus), somewhat similar to our Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis), which were also found during the survey."
The region where bats were collected has been in drought conditions and the teams had to be careful of several wildfires sparked by lightning strikes.  But Professor Tawse was able to contribute information about Florida bat populations and will bring that experience back to Ohio where he works with Ashland University Biology students conducting research on the ecology of our local bat species.

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