Researcher Discusses Bats and White-Nose Syndrome at Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Date: March 29, 2016

Did you know that bats are the longest-lived mammals in the Great Lakes region or that bats have larger babies, relative to the size of the mother, than any other kind of mammal? You can learn more at a public program about Michigan’s bats and threats they face at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) on April 9.

Dr. Allen Kurta (Eastern Michigan University) will present two talks entitled “Natural History of Bats in Michigan” and “Hibernation of Bats and White-Nose Syndrome” on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire, Michigan.  

Dr. Kurta’s first talk will provide an introduction to the biology of bats, our only flying mammals. He will describe the nine species found in Michigan, indicate where they are found, what they eat, when they reproduce, and explore many other aspects of the lives of these amazing creatures. 

In a second talk, Dr. Kurta will explain what hibernation is, why bats do it, and where in Michigan hibernating bats are found.  He will discuss the overwintering behavior of Michigan’s bat species and concentrate on the species that overwinter underground in mines and caves.  He will conclude with an introduction to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats in eastern North America since 2006, endangering the continued existence of some species.

Dr. Allen Kurta received a B.S. and M.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Boston University. His research for the past 38 years has focused on the ecology and behavior of bats, with an emphasis on the endangered Indiana bat and threatened northern long-eared bat. He has published over 95 papers in scientific journals, and he has authored or edited numerous books, including Mammals of the Great Lakes Region, The Bats of Puerto Rico, and Bats of Michigan. Dr. Kurta is a member of the Indiana Bat Recovery Team for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee on Mammals for the Endangered Species Program of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the North American Society for Bat Research.

These talks are part of a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore speaker series called Research Rendezvous. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NPS and highlight the value of national parks as our nation’s “living laboratories,” the National Lakeshore is hosting a series of public talks by park researchers in 2016. All Research Rendezvous presentations offered at the National Lakeshore are free. Upcoming Research Rendezvous presentations include the following:

“Comparison of Coastal Landforms and Sediments Between Sleeping Bear Dunes and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshores” by Dr. Zoran Kilibarda (Indiana University Northwest) on Friday, April 15 at 9:30 a.m.

“Investigating the Importance of Deer for Lyme Disease Ecology: A Natural Experiment Presented by Lake Michigan Islands” by Erik Foster (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) and Dr.  Jennifer Sidge (Michigan State University) on Thursday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m.

“Avian Botulism in Lake Michigan: How Does it Happen?” by Dr. Harvey Bootsma (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. 

“Advancing Monitoring Programs at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Using DNA Technology” by Dr. Murulee Byappanahalli and Meredith Nevers (U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center) and Christopher Otto (National Park Service) on Thursday, June 9 at 9:30 a.m.

Talks are scheduled once or twice a month throughout 2016, with more being added frequently. Please check calendar of events for the current schedule of upcoming talks.

Last updated: March 29, 2016

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