Bat Experts: Profile Page

We asked some of the bat-experts who will be presenting at the Fourth New Zealand Bat Conference to tell us how they developed a fascination with our bats.

Cory Toth

Cory is in his third year of his PhD at the University of Auckland, his PhD examines the mating system of lesser short-tailed bats in Pureora Forest Park, Central North Island

 

1. In one sentence, what fascinates you about bats?

 The number of questions that still need answers with regards to bats' basic life histories; they are complete mysteries, for the most part!

2. What is your most memorable bat moment?

 Catching at Ka'Kabiche, Belize - a site of Mayan ruins where a number of species roost in tunnels made by looters.

3. If you were a bat for 24 hours, what would you do?

 If I were a Lesser Short-tailed bat I would find a cozy solitary roost and sing to the passing ladies.

4. Why do you believe bat conservation to be important?

Although few realize it, bats are integral to the health of various ecosystems. Losing bats, even in countries with low bat diversity such as New Zealand, would have seriously detrimental effects on the landscape.

5. What is your ultimate bat slogan to leave us with?

 "Don't be a Joker, be a Bat-man"

Kerry Borkin

Kerry studied the effects of felling plantation forest on long-tailed bats for her PhD. She works for Wildland Consultants focusing on mitigating the effects of development on bats.

1. In one sentence, what fascinates you about bats?

Bats fascinate me because they keep turning up in places that we don't expect them,  like plantation forests and towns.

2. What is your most memorable bat moment?

My most memorable bat moment would have to be finding my first maternity roost and watching the young bats practicing fluttering their wings to make them strong.

3. If you were a bat for 24 hours, what would you do?

I'd be like a teenager: up all night and resting all day.

4. Why do you believe bat conservation to be important?

Some populations of long-tailed bats are likely to go extinct within 50 years without our help so it is really important to support bat conservation.

5. What is your ultimate bat slogan to leave us with?

Save the bat, Secure the cat, Target the rat.

Ben Paris

Ben Paris is a Senior Biodiversity Advisor with Auckland Council. His main areas of research interest include native fauna, community advocacy and science education through social media. His ‘NZ Batman’ Facebook and Twitter profiles are especially popular with over 1,000 followers to date.

1. In one sentence, what fascinates you about bats?

That we still don't know much about our only native land mammals, and they keep turning up in places we don't expect like near urban areas.

2. What is your most memorable bat moment?

Watching families see their first bat emerge on the night walks - it is such a special moment seeing their faces light up as they watch the bats fly about

3. If you were a bat for 24 hours, what would you do?

Tell all my bat friends to stick to the pest controlled forest areas to be safe from introduced mammal predators

4. Why do you believe bat conservation to be important?

Bat conservation is very important as bats provide vital ecosystem services like insect control and pollination

5. What is your ultimate bat slogan to leave us with?

Bats are cute, not scary! #savethebats

 Debra Searchfield

Debra Searchfield has been a member of Auckland Zoo's bird department for the last 4 years. In this time she has specialised in NZ native avian species and NZ’s lesser short-tailed bats Mystacina tuberculata, the only known collection of this species in captivity.

1. In one sentence, what fascinates you about bats?

Such intriguing little-seen animals that have such an undeserved place in horror stories, we still have so much more to learn about them.
 
2. What is your most memorable bat moment?

It would have to be handling our tiny new born bat pup and sucessfully getting him to take a feed from a syringe for the first time.
 
3. If you were a bat for 24 hours, what would you do?

Enjoy my incredible flying ability swooping through the night forest and listening to all the boys singing, then tucking up close with lots of others in the roost for my daytime nap.
 
4. Why do you believe bat conservation to be important?

Our native bats are unique in the bat world and a real treasure to NZ, we have a huge amount more to learn about them and they are an important part of our forest eco-systems, it would be a disaster to lose them.
 
5. What is your ultimate bat slogan to leave us with?

 Help bats to hang on!!