The Echo
Women in Bat Conservation: Laura Ellison

The Echo

Women in Bat Conservation: Laura Ellison

Published on April 1, 2015

Laura E. EllisonName: Laura E. Ellison      

Title: Ecologist

Organization: U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center

Female Conservation Hero:

One of my female conservation heroes is Susan Loeb, a Research Ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. She aptly taught my Mammalogy course at UC Davis when I was an undergraduate and now I have been lucky to have worked closely with her on developing NABat these past 3 years.

What is your focus in bat research?

I’ve worked on bat research topics since 1992 including acoustic monitoring in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, bat population status and trends in the United States and Territories, and populations of big brown bats roosting in buildings in Fort Collins in relation to the rabies virus. I currently lead the Data Management Team of the National Response to White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). I also manage the USGS Bat Population Data (BPD) Project, a web-based database that houses and serves bat colony counts, bibliographic citations, mist net and capture data, banding data, and acoustic data. I am also very lucky to be a part of a team of bat biologists developing the North American Bat Monitoring Program, or NABat. NABat is a multi-agency, collaborative effort to develop a statistically rigorous and internationally coordinated program to determine the impacts of the many stressors on bat populations, especially WNS and wind-energy impacts.

pallid batWhat’s your favorite species and why?

I was hooked on bats after capturing my first pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus, in Natural Bridges National Monument, UT, in 1992. It was the first bat I ever removed from a mist net all by myself and it’s been my favorite species ever since. That female pallid bat and I had a moment of mutual admiration (well, maybe not mutual) before I let it get back to foraging for the night. I love that pallid bats often forage close to the ground, not echolocating, and listening for large arthropods to pounce upon.

What is the most satisfying part of your involvement with bat research?

The most satisfying part of my job is collaborating with other wonderful bat biologists and feeling like we are working together to help bat populations persist in this age of stressors like white-nose syndrome, wind energy development, and climate change. I feel I have a network of people around the planet with the same ideals and interests!

How have you been involved with Bat Conservation International? 

Bat Conservation International has been a major collaborator on many of my bat projects since 1995. They were a key collaborator on the development of the USGS Bat Population Database (BPD) project and are very actively helping us develop the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat).

Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in bat conservation?

My advice for people wanting to get involved in bat conservation is to pursue fieldwork opportunities with existing bat research projects either as a volunteer or as a field technician. Once you see bats up close, you may never want to work on anything else! 

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of California, Davis, with a minor in Botany, and a M.S. in Biology at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.



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