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Environmental science major explores bat populations

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Environmental science major explores bat populations

With the help of a grant from the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, a Westminster College senior environmental science major was able to carry out her research exploring bats in New Wilmington, Pa.

Pittsburgh native KayLee Hankins conducted a population survey of bats in agricultural areas versus residential areas exploring the impact man-made structures have on bat populations using acoustic monitoring—a method used by ecologists and conservation researchers to survey wildlife populations by tracking their soundwaves.

Westminster’s Drinko Center was able to provide Hankins with the funds to purchase the KaleidoscopePro software from Wildlife Acoustics in order to conduct her research.

Hankins used the KaleidoscopePro to analyze pre-recorded bat calls and then used the EchoMeter Touch 2 application to ensure that bat numbers were being accurately counted. Her data was then analyzed using the 

Throughout her research process, Hankins was able to determine that even though a species may be threatened or endangered, they may still be abundant in the area, with the expectation that more bats will be found in locations with fewer man-made structures in comparison to those with many.

“During my research I learned the importance of bats in the ecosystem and the importance of wildlife education,” said Hankins.

Hankins post-graduation plans are to work in wildlife conservation within a Pennsylvania State Park system or a local wildlife organization in the Pittsburgh area.

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