Developing a New, Online, Citizen Science Project Studying Bat Behaviors

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Shannon R. Trimboli, Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, Western Kentucky University, Mammoth Cave, KY
Bats are an animal that many people love to hate. They evoke a range of strong reactions in people – some people love bats and are fascinated by them; others harbor deep fears of bats. These strong emotions have led to many public misconceptions and misunderstandings. These misconceptions are unfortunate because bats play an important role in the ecosystem. Despite their importance, relatively little is known about the behaviors of many North American bat species. This lack of basic knowledge is partly because it is difficult to study wild bat colonies in their natural environments. Recent improvements technology and associated costs have resulted in an increased use of infra-red cameras to remotely record videos of bats in and around roosts. However, one scientific study can result in thousands of hours of recorded videos for a single season. All of those videos need to be watched and coded for behaviors which can present additional challenges related to staff time. We are developing a new citizen science project focused on bat behaviors. It will be one of the first citizen science projects to use videos for studying animal behavior. The project will engage the public and contribute to the fields of citizen science, informal science education, and bat behavioral research. This poster will 1) describe the project, 2) discuss some of the challenges we’ve encountered, 3) seek input from other citizen science professionals and bat researchers, and 4) provide information for those wishing to develop similar, video-based, citizen science projects.