Science Diary: Asia Bat – Name

“It could be Rhinolophus lepidus or it could be Rhinolophus pusillus because nobody really knows the difference between them.”

A rose might be a rose by any other name, but in biology getting the name of a species right is crucial to collecting useable information. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Bat researcher Tigga Kingston is working to set up a series of sites throughout Southeast Asia that will be used to learn more about the distribution of the region’s bats. Right now, she’s on the Indonesian island of Sumatra training students to take data on bats that they have captured in traps. But identifying the species of bats on this trip has been a bit of a challenge.

“Last night we actually had pretty good catch. We must have had about 20 bats in it, by 7:00 o’clock. As this was the students’ first night we didn’t actually keep every one of them. I kept about two of each species so we went through all the data that we deal with and handling and they’re pretty good, actually. They’re picking up the handling quite quickly, and the whole process. Nobody’s really worked much in Sumatra, surprisingly enough, so at least two of the six insectivorous bats that we caught, I was like, well, I’m not sure what it is. It could be Rhinolophus lepidus or it could be Rhinolophus pusillus because nobody really knows the difference between them.”

Little research has been done on the bat species found on Sumatra, and no one has yet developed an identification key that can be used to quickly and accurately determine the species of a bat.

“Two little small horseshoe bats. There’s slight differences in their echolocation but what we really need to do is get some tissue samples. And because I’m just here on a training trip, I don’t have the correct permits to take specimens or tissue, so for now, this will remain unresolved.”

To learn more about Tigga Kingston’s work with bats, visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Science Diary: Asia Bat - Name

Correctly identifying Indonesian bats can be tricky, even for those in the know.
Air Date:10/25/2010
Scientist:
Transcript:


"It could be Rhinolophus lepidus or it could be Rhinolophus pusillus because nobody really knows the difference between them."

A rose might be a rose by any other name, but in biology getting the name of a species right is crucial to collecting useable information. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Bat researcher Tigga Kingston is working to set up a series of sites throughout Southeast Asia that will be used to learn more about the distribution of the region's bats. Right now, she's on the Indonesian island of Sumatra training students to take data on bats that they have captured in traps. But identifying the species of bats on this trip has been a bit of a challenge.

"Last night we actually had pretty good catch. We must have had about 20 bats in it, by 7:00 o'clock. As this was the students' first night we didn't actually keep every one of them. I kept about two of each species so we went through all the data that we deal with and handling and they're pretty good, actually. They're picking up the handling quite quickly, and the whole process. Nobody's really worked much in Sumatra, surprisingly enough, so at least two of the six insectivorous bats that we caught, I was like, well, I'm not sure what it is. It could be Rhinolophus lepidus or it could be Rhinolophus pusillus because nobody really knows the difference between them."

Little research has been done on the bat species found on Sumatra, and no one has yet developed an identification key that can be used to quickly and accurately determine the species of a bat.

"Two little small horseshoe bats. There's slight differences in their echolocation but what we really need to do is get some tissue samples. And because I'm just here on a training trip, I don't have the correct permits to take specimens or tissue, so for now, this will remain unresolved."

To learn more about Tigga Kingston's work with bats, visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.