Monday, November 14, 2016

How do bat biologists perceive BATS? A new PLOS One article

Bats and Academics: How Do Scientists Perceive Their Object of Study?

This is the title of a new article that was just published in PLOS One (here) by Christophe Boëte and Serge Morand.  The article (based on results from an international survey of bat biologists) suggests that many bat biologists have reached certain conclusions about what the risks to bats worldwide due to environmental change are and that the key next step is communicating this information to the public.

I think this is the key point (see below) that is worth consideration. This conclusion is not surprising but is extremely important. However, what is the most effective way to communicate this information? Reaching out to school-aged children (k12) seems to be one of the focal groups as are students in classrooms of bat biologist but is this the ideal way forward? Twitter and other online forums are great but I think people usually communicate with like-minded people.

I highly suggest giving the article a look and I would be keen to know what people might suggest a proper response to the author's 'call to action' might be!
Educational poster on bats from Bat Conservation Trust in the UK (here).

Abstract (Boëte and Morand 2016)

Bats are associated with conflicting perceptions among humans, ranging from affection to disgust. If these attitudes can be associated with various factors among the general public (e.g. social norms, lack of knowledge), it is also important to understand the attitude of scientists who study bats. Such reflexive information on the researchers community itself could indeed help designing adequate mixed communication tools aimed at protecting bats and their ecosystems, as well as humans living in their vicinity that could be exposed to their pathogens. Thus, we conducted an online survey targeting researchers who spend a part of their research activity studying bats. Our aim was to determine (1) how they perceive their object of study, (2) how they perceive the representation of bats in the media and by the general population, (3) how they protect themselves against pathogen infections during their research practices, and (4) their perceptions of the causes underlying the decline in bat populations worldwide. From the 587 completed responses (response rate of 28%) having a worldwide distribution, the heterogeneity of the scientists’ perception of their own object of study was highlighted. In the majority of cases, this depended on the type of research they conducted (i.e. laboratory versus field studies) as well as their research speciality. Our study revealed a high level of personal protection equipment being utilised against pathogens during scientific practices, although the role bats play as reservoirs for a number of emerging pathogens remains poorly known. Our results also disclosed the unanimity among specialists in attributing a direct role for humans in the global decline of bat populations, mainly via environmental change, deforestation, and agriculture intensification. Overall, the present study suggests the need for better communication regarding bats and their biology, their role within the scientific community, as well as in the general public population. As a consequence, increased knowledge regarding scientists’ perceptions of bats should improve the role scientists play in influencing the perception of bats by the general public.

Boëte C, Morand S (2016) Bats and Academics: How Do Scientists Perceive Their Object of Study? PLoS ONE 11(11): e0165969. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165969

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Women in Science

In reading about one of my new heros: Viripi Luumma of the University of Sheffield and pre-industrial Finn dataset fame - I ran across this inspiring post from the Guaridan I wanted to share!

 Inspiring women in science and technology – your pictures

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What is it like to film bats in caves?

If you have ever seen the amazing footage of bats leaving or entering caves you might have been curious what it is like to flim thousands of animals all flying around your camera? 

Today I saw a great video on this topic and was excited to share it here.  What makes it extra special is that in addition to great images of bats in the wild and in a wind-tunnel the person explaining everything is someone who's presentations and videos I've seen before.  AMAZING STUFF!

Interviewed is Nickolay Hristov from Winston-Salem State University.  Read about some of his ongoing projects by clicking this (link).

From Hristov's STEM page I thought this was a great list of questions that have been addressed in bats using high-speed video recording

"Questions scientists have answered by filming bats in high-speed:

  • How do individual bats move within a group?
  • How bats use their wings to fly?
  • What is the speed of a group of bats?
  • Do bats hit or touch each other in a group
  • How close are bats when they emerge from a cave?"
From 'Science Fridays' Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Distractingly Sexy!

A Twitter Storm hit the internet in response to a comment from Tim Hunt of U. College London who has since lost his job over the comment.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry."  

Distractingly sexy pipetting at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park 
A few links are below if you were not witness to the storm:

Distractingly sexy (note 'wink' shirt) karyotyping in Panama.

Female scientists post 'distractingly sexy' photos

New White Nose Syndrome fact sheet out (2015)

*Hot off the press--

You can read the new White Nose Syndrome (WNS) fact sheet here.

Impacted : 7 species including of which are 2 endangered 

Still no disease has been seen in tree bats and a few others that have been found with the fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans).

(*I will  try to look into this last aspect more for future blogs as understanding how/why certain species may not be exhibiting disease is key for ascertaining the impacts of the fungus).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The secret of the bat genome TED talk (Emma Teeling)

Another Ted talk this one on what the genome of bats can tell us about bat evolution.

Below the talk can also be accessed by clicking this (Link)

From the Ted website:
"In Western society, bats are often characterized as creepy, even evil. Zoologist Emma Teeling encourages us to rethink our attitude toward bats, whose unique and fascinating biology gives us insight into our own genetic makeup. (Filmed at TEDxDublin.)"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why do ambitious women have flat heads? Ted Talk

A nice new Ted Talk by Dame Stephanie Shirley.


From the Ted website:

"Dame Stephanie Shirley is the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members. In this frank and often hilarious talk, she explains why she went by “Steve,” how she upended the expectations of the time, and shares some sure-fire ways to identify ambitious women …"