Bats: Ditch the Stigma, Learn the Facts

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For the past five years, Samantha Hoff has worked as a wildlife technician for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, studying one specific little animal: the bat.

And her research as a doctorate student at the University of Albany revolves around them entirely — more specifically, northern long-eared bat populations across coastal communities in the northeast, including Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket — which she will present on Saturday, October 27, at the South Fork Natural History Museum.

“We may only think of bats as a flitting presence against the light of the moon on a dark night or as a Halloween icon,” according to Education Coordinator Melanie Meade. “In reality, the decline of a migratory species like the northern long-eared bat could have unforeseen effects on widespread ecosystems.”

Formerly a common species, northern long-eared bats are now rarely encountered, due to devastating population declines resulting from white-nose syndrome. Since the arrival of this invasive fungal disease in 2006, these bats have experienced rapid extirpation from hibernation sites, leading to a federal listing of Threatened in 2015.

Despite this trend, recent evidence shows populations off the coast of the northeastern United States are persisting despite exposure to the disease. Ongoing research investigating the mechanisms allowing these populations to persist includes tracking bats to find hibernation sites, studying winter activity patterns and the availability of prey, and testing for prevalence of the disease.

The lecture will begin at 2 p.m. at the Bridgehampton museum, located at 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. Admission is free. For more information, call (631) 537-9735 or visit sofo.org.

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