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Airdate: May 15, 2012
Scientist: Tigga Kingston

Science Diary: Bat Diversity - Trapping

Science Diary: Bat Diversity - Trapping
Science Diarist Tigga Kingston starts her work-night as she heads out into the rain forest to check bat traps.

Science Diary: Bat Diversity - Trapping

Ambience: Malaysian Rainforest

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Tigga Kingston is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Texas Tech. She's in Malaysia, trying to learn more about how the local bat population's density and diversity might be affected by development and deforestation. Right now she's getting ready to start her day's work. And when you study bats, your workday begins at night.

Ambience: Sound of bats that have been caught, recording data

"What we'll do at night, is we'll visit the traps and get the bats out of that hopper out of the bag at the bottom, and we'll record the location of the traps."

Tigga Kingston and her team capture bats using harp traps, sets of rectangular frames strung with very fine fishing line. When the bats hit the nets, they fall, unharmed, into a collecting bag.

"So all the traps have individual numbers. We stake poles into the ground that are painted either yellow or red with a number on, so we record the number of the trap. And the data we record are: which species it is, is it male, female, is it reproductively active, so is it pregnant or lactating if it's a female. And then we put on a wing band, and a wing band slips over the forearm of the animal and it has a unique number engraved in it. So this way we know exactly which individual came from which trap. And this is one of the things we're looking at is spatial analysis. Are some species distributed randomly around the forest, are some in little clusters, what does that mean in terms of their social biology. If we catch bats more than once, which we do quite regularly, how far have they flown since they were last caught?"

To hear more about Tigga Kingston's work, check out our website at Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.