Click HERE to for the Cap Radio broadcast and rad pictures.
OK -- Fair warning, 3 minutes boiled down from 3 hours of journalistic recording is going to let some things slip through the cracks. And while I may bemoan the slightly touchy-feely way I sound in this report, Cap Radio sure got the story right! And the story is this: I've spent the last 3 years amassing data to figure out how bats impact codling moth - a major crop pest - in walnut. This project will hopefully be drawing to a close after this summer and then the data crunching begins.
Click HERE to for the Cap Radio broadcast and rad pictures.
Water use in California has been in the spotlight recently -- most of the West is in a major drought and as water becomes scarce, there are few living creatures that feel the crunch more than aquatic wildlife. Additionally, Fisheries management must adapt to the drought conditions just like the rest of us. Please take a moment to check out the Davis/Sacramento Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and their newsletter for this Spring (which features some of my latest fishy art)! Additionally, you can check out how Cal Fish and Wildlife is reacting to the drought and protecting our natural resources (including fish!).
My colleague Sara Kross and I are pleased to announce that our survey to assess Central Valley growers' perceptions of wildlife on farms has been mailed out and is available online! See press release:
UC DAVIS SURVEY SEEKS GROWER OPINIONS OF WILDLIFE
Researchers at the University of California, Davis and the UC Cooperative
Extension are launching a survey next week to understand the concerns and
expectations that Central Valley farmers have for birds and bats on their
³We know that growers have a vital working knowledge of their land and
the wildlife that shares it,² said Katherine Ingram, co-author of the
survey and a PhD student in the department of Wildlife, Fish &
Conservation Biology at UC Davis. ³Birds and bats are found on farms
around the Central Valley, and while we study the biology of these
animals, we often don¹t understand the role that they play on farms. This
survey will help us do that.²
Over 20 bat species and 300 bird species can be found in California, many
of which use the state¹s farmland for some or all of their life cycles.
Next week, 500 surveys will be mailed to growers in Butte, Sutter, Yolo,
Solano and Sacramento counties. Growers, landowners and managers from
anywhere in the state are also encouraged to fill out the survey online
at http://wfcb.ucdavis.edu/farmer-survey. Survey participation is
voluntary, and all responses will remain anonymous.
³Grower responses to this survey will help us develop research questions
and outreach materials that are relevant and meaningful to California
farms,² said Rachael Long, farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension.
Guest blog by UC Davis Undergrad and Bat Intern Flor Calderon
Hello my name is Flor Calderon and I am a fellow bat enthusiast/wildlife biology student at UC Davis. I recently assisted Kate on an awesome internship mist netting bats and analyzing their recorded calls. Mist netting bats turned out to be more adventurous then I anticipated, at day one I was already grateful for that rabies vaccination required. From getting guano in my eye on the first time looking up at a bat house, to getting hassled by the police for hanging out in the middle of an orchard in the dark, like that’s not normal, to getting gnawed on by the most viciously cute Pallid bats, working with bats had to be one of the most exciting and rewarding internships I’ve had.
The thing about bats is that they have the superpower you always wanted but will never have.
Nope, it’s not blood-sucking (actually bats lap blood, much like a dog laps water – which admittedly, if you really wanted to lap some liquids you could…). And it’s not even echolocation (because, let’s face it, screaming high-pitched noises ALL THE TIME to see where you’re going has to get old).
It’s flight. True, sweet, powered flight. Like Superman. Like Wonder Woman. Self-powered, point your nose in the air, and go wherever you want to, flight.
Yeah, yeah, you say –but birds have flight too. Why not be envious of our feathered friends? Well, because of just that – birds are feathered, and their whole means of flight is so vastly foreign to mammal anatomy and physiology that it’s hard to be jealous of birds. They have hollow bones, auto-pumping lungs that inhale and exhale with flight strokes, and feathers for goodness sakes!
Bats, on the other hand, are all mammalian innovation. Their wings are made of skin stretched across elongated fingers – the Latin name that all of science uses for bats is Chiroptera, or “hand wing”. Remember that time when you were a kid and you grabbed two hand-held fans and flapped them as hard as you could so that you could fly? (Oh wait, was that just me?). As you may or may not have found out – fan flying doesn’t work for human children. But ooooooh if only I had hand-wings! You see, bat wings are the only evolutionary answer for powered flight in mammals that has EVER evolved (that we yet know of). Flying squirrels glide. Colugos glide. It turns out that the adaptation of skin stretched between wildly modified fingers was the trick – none of that skin flap between the forearm and the hind leg stuff has the umph for powered flight.
And here’s another thing, although powered flight is an extremely rare trait in vertebrate evolution (it has only evolved twice – once in birds and once in bats) it has conferred an incredible evolutionary advantage as evidenced in the diversity of bird and bat species! Of the approximately 24570 known terrestrial vertebrate species, birds comprise nearly half of those species (ringing in at a hefty 9998 species)! And out of 5490 known mammal species, 20% are bats!! One might easily infer that flying opened up a whole new world for bats and birds – one that allowed many species to fill in unused niche space. And the result of all of this niche filling? Bats eat everything under the sun – from fish to frogs to nectar to flowers to bugs to blood, bats as a phylogenetic group have the highest diversity in foraging habits of any comparable terrestrial vertebrate group (i.e. at the Order level). And the fact that bats eat bugs, seeds, and pollen, should not go unnoticed – if it weren't for bat-aided agave pollination there would be no tequila! And if it weren't for the thousands of bats in your back yard there would be millions more mosquitoes! Stay tuned to this blog, in fact, for more on bats and pest control ….
So back to superpowers. My final thoughts on bats for the New Year are these. Before you get caught in yet another bat-fearing slump as you read about Ebola and bats, consider this: bats may have the superpower you always wanted, but you have the ONLY superpower that may save bats: your giant brain. You see, wildlife can’t help the fact that it might carry-human communicable disease. And bats can’t help that little children make games of killing them and adults like eating them. Humans must protect themselves against bat-borne disease by using their own Professor X- like superpower. Step one, stop killing, eating, and otherwise antagonizing bats for fun. Step two, like Charles Xavier, we must use our brains to inform and reach out to those in need -- we must support communities in the tropics in their efforts to change these human behaviors that not only destroy wildlife and wild resources, but endanger human lives. Although I would gladly give my own brainy superpower up for flight (all those brain-associated emotions and responsibilities really can be a drag), I feel so fortunate to be able to use my brain for the benefit of truly admirable superheroes of the mammalian realm: bats!
My name is Kate Ingram. I am a doctoral student at UC Davis who is passionate about conservation biology and society. My current research is on bats as predators of crop pests in the Central Valley: a project which belies my desire to serve society through science. As most folks know, bats eat bugs, and lots of bugs eat crops. So my question is: do bats save farmers money by eating the bugs that eat their crops? I am working with collaborators from the UC Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, UC Cooperative Extension, and the USDA to find out just that! That being said, the opinions and views expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone.
On another tangent ... I also firmly believe that art and science are two sides of the same coin. I am a painter and derive much of my wonder for the world from observation. Likewise, observation is the most basic building block of science.
Finally, and most importantly, I love sharing my passion for the living world with others! It is my hope that my dedication to a lifetime of learning can produce meaningful insight for farmers, politicians, fellow biologists, students, and all curious members of the human melange. Welcome to my blog about these loves of my life: art, science, and bats!