music; ambience: Bat squeak, blowing
â€œSo, we will need one of these cages.â€
Youâ€™re listening to the sounds of a research team studying hibernating bats in upstate, NY in the Spring of 2007. Over the course of the following year, everything has changed. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. In April of 2007, wildlife biologist Al Hicks was gathering data on some Indiana Bats that were waking up from hibernation in caves. Al was fastening radio transponders to a number of bats in the colony, so that they could be tracked to their summer range. And he and his team were taking notes of the batsâ€™ weight and sexual characteristics.
“Taking the bat out of the container. Checking to see what the species is, looking for the size of the feet, looking for hairs on the toes, general coloration. And we’re going to call this one a female sodalis.â€
Sodalis is the Latin name for the Indiana Bat. To see if a bat is reproductively active, you would blow on its belly, looking for signs of prominent nipples.
(Blowing sound) “I would say non-reproductive. Yeah, it’s not prominent, but visible, this is a non-reproductive female.â€
“6.9 grams. She’s a keeper.â€
â€œOkay, and this labeled with â€
â€œ cluster number one.”
Over the past year, this once healthy colony of Indiana bats, along with others in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, have been decimated by a mysterious disease. One of its symptoms is a fungal growth nicknamed â€œWhite Nose Syndrome.â€ Itâ€™s killed thousands of bats, and scientists are now trying to determine its cause and stop its spread. Weâ€™ll hear more in future programs.
You can check for updates on pulseplanet.com.
Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.