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A Critical Resource for Global Bat Conservation

A Critical Resource for Global Bat Conservation

At the North American Bat Research Symposium in Puerto Rico in 2012, Dr. Paul Racey shared this concern:

During workshops I have taught in the Old World tropics over the last 10 years, I have been concerned that few of the participants (and generally none) have had access to Tom Kunz's methods book. Apart from my own copy, which I carried around, all that was available during six workshops were a few tattered photocopies of odd chapters. It would defeat the purpose of producing such a key resource if it did not reach all of its target audience, such as the younger members of bat conservation networks like CCINSA in South Asia, SEABCRU in Southeast Asia, RELCOM in Latin America, and the planned bat conservation network in Sub-Saharan Africa.


That message from Paul, a trusted colleague and mentor to bat scientists and conservationists around the world, was catalyst for a continuing initiative to provide this critical bat-conservation resource to those who need it most. Bat Conservation International understands that effective global strategies for conservation require local leadership and an investment in capacity building at the local level. Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats, known internationally as “the Kunz and Parsons book,” is considered the premiere resource for bat conservationists. But access has been limited by cost in many parts of the world.

The first edition of the book was published in 1988. Since then, scientists have learned more about an increasing number of bat species, and methodologies have changed dramatically. The latest edition, like the first, was co-edited by Dr. Thomas Kunz, a leading bat researchers in North America, and Dr. Stuart Parsons of New Zealand, whose research specialty is bioacoustics (specifically the analysis of echolocation calls). This updated edition features 14 new chapters, including one on assessing diseases in bats.

Although conservationists have made great strides in the last 25 years, there is still much to learn about the world’s 1,300+ bat species. The Kunz and Parsons book is especially useful in more remote regions of developing countries, where researchers face many challenges, from lingering misperceptions about bats to limited experience in designing effective studies. “The kind of reliable and detailed knowledge that scientists take for granted in the industrialized world can be impossibly rare and expensive elsewhere, especially in remote regions with limited access to technology,” said Dave Waldien, BCI’s Director of Global Programs,

Our Global Distribution Plans

In order to get this book into the hands of both established and emerging bat researchers in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, BCI first won the the endorsement and support of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group, North American Society for Bat Research, Latin American Bat Conservation Network, Southeast Asian Bat Conservation and Research Unit, EUROBATS and the Australasian Bat Society. Then the generous support of BCI’s members and friends allowed us to make an idea a reality.

Over the past 12 months, BCI has mailed or hand-delivered copies of the Kunz and Parsons book to many of the most active and promising individuals, organizations and networks working in bat conservation in more than 50 countries. Each star on this represents a nation where at least one individual or organization has received a copy of this invaluable book. And our distribution continues in Eastern Europe and South Asia during 2014.


Here’s a look at the response to this remarkable book:

In February of 2013, BCI staff joined 42 dedicated bat conservationists, including 30 from 19 African countries and islands of the West Indian Ocean in Naivasha, Kenya, for the first African Bat Conservation (ABC) Summit. Copies of the Kunz and Parsons book brought great excitement.

African Bat Conservation Summit participants with copies of the new edition of the Kunz and Parsons book

“Since receiving the book in February, I have designed better research projects using the methods described in the book. As an essential reference material, it provides a guide for my current project on Nigerian cave bats. So I'm grateful to BCI for handing me a copy. Prior to receiving the book, I struggled with project methodology; now my projects will be better designed.”

Iroro Tanshi, Vice-Chair 
Bat Conservation Africa Network

Iroro Tanshi, University  of Benin, Nigeria

"The Kunz Book is very useful for me and my students, not only by exposing us to standard methods of studying bats, but also the theoretical concepts underlying such a study and those of understanding the ecology of bats in general".

Dr. Paul Webala

"I have never met Thomas Kunz personally, but I have met his books. His bat books are awesome and a ‘must have’ in the field and in the office for any veteran and upcoming bat ecologist anywhere in the world. I have two texts in my office, namely; Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats, 2nd edition (edited by Kunz and Parsons); Bat Ecology (edited by Kunz and Brock Fenton). These are the two books which I always give to people who visit the Mammalogy Section of National Museums of Kenya interested in reading about bats. Long live Kunz and long live his work!"

Simon Musila, Curator of the Mammalogy Section at the National Museums of Kenya

In August of 2013, BCI staff distributed more than 50 copies of the book at the International Bat Research Conference, held in San Jose, Costa Rica. They were presented to conservationists from more than 12 countries in Latin America. Each of the 19 country programs in the Latin American Bat Conservation Network will receive two copies.

Study Design workshop for participants from Latin America with their new copies of the Kunz and Parsons book

“As a conservation organization in Colombia, we think that scientific development in developing countries is hampered, in part, by poor access to relevant scientific literature and updated field and laboratory protocols.  ... Our work has greatly benefited by receiving the Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats. This complete set of field methods, which cites the most accepted literature in the field, has been fundamental in our work in the Chicamocha Project. We want to thank Bat Conservation and its generous donors for this important contribution to our work. We are sure this will benefit our future endeavors.”

Sergio Estrada Villegas, PCM-Colombia, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute 

This book often much more than an invaluable scientific resources. Listen to Fernando Simal, co-founder of a joint effort to monitor and conserve bat species among multiple Caribbean islands and Venezuela:

“For a group of people that is new to bat conservation and research, like the PPRABC, these books are a great reference to have in house, but they also are an inspiration considering the authors and, because they were a gift from BCI, it is a reminder that there are many great people out there willing to help and support you in your bat conservation and research efforts.”

kunzjan6Students at work with the PPRABC (Programa pa Protehé Raton dj’anochi, or Bat Conservation Program)

The two copies donated by BCI to the PCMPR are deposited at the Bayamón Campus of Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico. One copy is located at the Decanato de Investigación, where students from the Undergraduate Research Program can easily access it. The other copy is located at the library, so that people interested in bat research anywhere on the Island can easily gain access to it. The main users are, of course, my students. This is an excellent resource that they constantly refer to in their projects. These research projects range from behavioral studies in captivity related to the importance of bats in the dispersal of seeds from an endangered plant to energetics of island bats. They also include research on morphology, impact of urban sprawl on diversity, rabies, and wind farms.

– Dr. Armando Rodríguez-Durán, Dean for Research, Universidad Interamericana

The Bats Conservation Program of Chile (Programa para la Conservación de Los Murciélagos de Chile, PCMCh), develops training courses on technical skills for the study of the ecology of bats. This course is directed to members of the public and private sectors as well as for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, we continually seek to update us on the various methodologies that exist to study bats. In that sense, having Dr. Kunz 's book represents a major contribution to our work , especially now that our organization is growing, just like the demand to receive more training about bats of Chile. We can only recognize and acknowledge the monumental work that this publication represents and the important labor that Dr. Kunz has developed for the study, understanding and conservation of bats worldwide. A worthy example to follow. From Chile a big thank you!!

    • Dr. Renzo Vargas Rodriguez,
    • General Coordinator of the PCM-Chile


Last year, we also distributed books in conjunction with the 22nd Philippine Biodiversity Summit at the annual meeting of the Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines, and at the SEABCRU Flying Fox Workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Building upon our partnership with Marlyn Mendoza, a leader in community-based conservation efforts in the Philippines, BCI delivered copies to established conservationists who will help make this resource available to future conservation leaders.

"All of our Cambodian staff and students interested in bats have found the Kunz book incredibly useful"

Dr. Neil Furey



“Effective and lasting conservation of the world’s more than 1300 species of bats requires highly skilled and dedicated people working together. Providing more than 200 copies of the premiere textbook on bat monitoring and research techniques to bat conservationists around the world is an important step forward. I cannot think of a better investment for building global bat conservation capacity than distributing these books, and we owe a huge thank you to all of the supporters who helped to make this happen”

Dave Waldien, PhD, Director of Global Programs Bat Conservation International

Dave Waldien (BCI) and Marlyn Mendoza
(Protected Area Community Management Division)

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