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It’s Almost Halloween … and Batman Works at Loyola

By Loyola University on Wed, 10/16/2019 - 16:21

Loyola’s Environment Program to Lead Three Bat Events in October

(New Orleans, La. – Oct. 16, 2019) It’s almost Halloween … and Batman works at Loyola! Renowned researcher Dr. Craig Hood and undergraduate students in the university’s Environment Program go out into area parks at night to track the movements and sounds of city bats, in hopes of learning more about their migration patterns and habits.

“We’re discovering the bats that live and fly about our landscape. The more we know and understand about bats, the more we know and understand about local ecology,” said Dr. Hood. “What we are doing here as we are recording echolocation calls is studying the sound landscapes of our natural areas and urban and urbanized areas — it’s a window into the soundscapes of nature in our area.”

Using a special Bat Detector, Dr. Hood and his students in Loyola’s Bat Lab are also now working with high school students throughout seven surrounding parishes in the greater New Orleans Area to set up a bat monitoring program that will help to collect real data.

All participating students – whether they attend Loyola or a local high school – are through this research discovering the urban wildlife and biodiversity that exists here in our city and our region and ultimately that’s contributing to an understanding of nature, said Dr. Hood. 

More important, perhaps, students are not only also learning to do real conservation ecology – who are our bats and where are they – they are learning foundational STEM skills that are aligned with next generation science standards in Louisiana education.

More than one-third of this year’s first-year students at Loyola have expressed interest in careers in medicine and health sciences, and Dr. Hood sees the use of bat ecology as a way to encourage both science education and general development of scientific research skills — the same kind of skills that are needed to become, say, a medical doctor. 

The students are getting the opportunity to collect massive data sets and analyze them, skills that are vital today in STEM education and scientific research. They are also enjoying the process of scientific discovery, said Dr. Hood. 

“The single most important thing that has emerged is that we have bats across our entire urbanized landscape as well as the natural areas,” Dr. Hood said. “These are inhabitants of the greater New Orleans area. They are a part of us. That’s interesting in and of itself.” 

Residents can learn more about bats in the days surrounding Halloween, as Dr. Hood and his students lead bat walks and presentations in area parks.
 
•    October 18, 2019 — Northshore Bats! ... Northlake Nature Center. Bat Walk from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. To attend, contact https://northlakenature.org/ rue@northlakenature.org. 

•    October 26, 2019 —  About Bats ... Audubon Nature Center. 3:30-4:30 p.m. presentation ALL DAY EVENTS (10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.) Contact https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/bat-day 

•    November 1, 2019 —  The Bats of Barataria ... Jean Lafitte National Park 6 to 8 p.m. —  Presentation and Bat Walk Contact (emily_elliott@partner.nps.gov) or the Barataria Preserve Visitor's Center (504-689-3690, extension 10)

Hear bat calls and learn more about Loyola’s Bat Program in “Inspiring What’s Next,” Loyola’s 2019 Provost’s Report.