Writing with Scientists

Sarah, New York
Grade 10, Age 15

Sarah’s report about how bats use their ears won a 2005 Young Naturalist Award.

In this passage, Sarah reflects on challenges in her investigation as well as new questions she has coming out of her results.

The World Through a Bat’s Ear

Quantifying bats’ responses to varying measures of clutter in the wild presents unique challenges. More detailed conclusions would benefit from analyses of the complexity of vegetation contours or foliage echoes and their impact on bat echolocation. Challenges in the wild also include the need to take adequate account of other bats as sources of clutter. Future research would benefit as well from an increase in the sample size (number of calls and number of sequences).

It is clear that bats adjust the design of their echolocation calls according to their situation. Situation-specific calls alert other bats to those conditions in which the bat is operating. Other bats within earshot of the Renfrew site could have used the calls I recorded to locate the entrance to the mine. This helps biologists to understand how bats can find important sites such as mating and hibernation sites. In other settings, biologists have demonstrated that free-flying bats in the wild listen to one another and keep track of what is happening to other bats within earshot.

Learn more about Sarah and her report.