Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall bat events (updated year of the bat listing)

Below is an updated listing for October of events from around the world that relate to bats some in celebration of the Year of the Bat (2011)).
(In-progress, expect updates)

Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, South Pacific Islands
31 October Australasian Bat night

26, 29 Oct. Bourges Chauve-souris expo at the Natural History Museum in Bourges.

3 Oct. Fledermaus Kreativ Wettbewerb (bat creativity contest to come up with art for the bat museum or Internet site.)

23 Oct. Opening of Sweden's bat museum!

1 Oct. (Zurich) Long Sat. bat exhibit.

United Kingdom
21 Oct. Bats for building workers (workshop) Jersey Bat Group.

North America
26-29 Oct. North American Symposium on Bat Research (NASBR). Toronto, Canada. Chiropterologists will be meeting to discuss their research!

United States
Austin, Texas.
Anytime. Who knew? You can take river cruises to see the famous Congress Avenue Bridge bat colony emerge! So the next time you are in Austin check it out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bat souffle anyone? Milk assays in-progress

It has been some time (and then some) since I have posted anything but I figured a quick update about my current endeavours: bat milk analysis would get me back to posting more regularly. Besides classes start up tomorrow so I am back to my regular schedule and so too blogging.

Because I am interested in the costs of reproduction in bats I am also very interested in the quality of the milk bats produce. This is in part because lactation is arguably the most expensive task that mammals do! Females will deplete their fat stores and even start to break down their own skeletons to make milk for their young.

But here is the issue. Bats are MUCH smaller than cows.

So say I want to know the percentages of fat, sugar and protein or total calories in bat milk... I will need a LOT of milk or very specialized techniques to evaluate these components. This is where an amazing group of people come in one of which is Dr. Wendy Hood at Auburn who has developed methods to analyze very tiny volumes of milk!

Thank you Dr. Hood! So since last September I have worked off and on to develop my own versions of these tests using the methods and protocols of Dr. Hood.

My standard for all my tests (to be sure they are working) happens to be regular 'ol cow's milk. Luckily the values for all the parts of cow milk are all well known (thank you now to the USDA!) * see label above for an example.

The idea (one that takes more work than it sounds) is to get the same numbers for your cow milk as the contain of milk suggests... if you can do that your assays are working!

The parts I analyze are:

  • dry mass (how much water is in the milk)

  • fat

  • carbohydrates (sugars like lactose) and

  • protein

If you know these components you can calculate the amount of energy in your milk!

I will explain each of these in part but the bat souffle will be first so... keep posted!