The following is written by G. Roy Horst. It is reprinted with permission and some minor editorial changes from Bat Research News, vol. 36(4), pp. 129-132, 1995.
The idea for a symposium dedicated exclusively to the biology of bats originated in a series of conversations with interested bat biologists in late 1969 and early 1970 while I was on the faculty at the University of Arizona School of Medicine in Tucson, AZ. The concept was developed further at the American Society of Mammalogists annual meeting in College Station, TX in June of 1970. Several of us were taking a break in the cocktail lounge from a long afternoon of "mouse papers" when one of us made the irreverent comment that it was too bad we had to sit through all those mouse and rat papers just to hear one paper on bats. At this point, Jim Findley made the casual comment that "somebody" should organize a small, definitely informal, local get-together on some convenient weekend and we would spend a day discussing our various interests and projects concerning bats. After a few more thoughts and opinions were expressed, we reached the conclusion that this in fact would be a pleasant and worthwhile experience. A meeting was subsequently arranged for November 27-28, 1970, the weekend of Thanksgiving Day, when most of us would have a short break from our teaching responsibilities. We decided to invite all those bat biologists in the southwestern United States and that the meeting would be in Tucson, as this was centrally located in the southwest. Invitations went to all those individuals working on bats in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. We also extended an invitation to our colleagues in Mexico as well as anyone else who might be interested and could afford the time and journey to Tucson. The University of Arizona and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum generously agreed to serve as our host institutions. Philip H. Krutzsch served as our host and I assumed the responsibility for putting some sort of program together.
We anticipated that 15 or 20 individuals might attend this minimally organized gathering, but were pleasantly surprised when 42 biologists attended and presented 25 papers. The sessions were very informal and a great deal of very relaxed (most of the time) discussion accompanied each presentation. At the end of the meeting everyone agreed that this was a very useful experience and "we should do it again next year." Jim Findley agreed to serve as our host but only if someone else would do the paperwork involved with sending out the invitations, assembling the submitted presentations into some sort of program, and handle the correspondence that is inherent in such conferences. All agreed that "since it was your idea in the first place, Roy" and since "you had already done it once," and presumably now an expert at organizing meetings, I should be the "program person." We also decided at that meeting that we should call ourselves the Southwestern Symposium on Bat Research, and agreed that we would meet the following year on the fourth weekend in November (to coincide again with the Thansgiving holiday weekend). So ended that first Symposium on Bat Research in the Southwest.
The second Southwestern Symposium on Bat Research was convened on November 26-27, 1971 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we were graciously hosted by James Findley. Twenty-nine papers were presented and 57 biologists participated. Some noteworthy observations from that meeting: Lendell Cockrum urged "that we address ourselves with renewed zeal to the problems of bat conservation." The program minutes reported that "Clyde Jones made an excellent and timely report on this topic which did much to re-awaken our concern in this area and we are all resolved to quicken our efforts in bat conservation." This was, as far as I can determine, the first organized attempt to address this critical problem of bat conservation, and a special session on conservation was proposed for the next symposium. Clyde Jones agreed to organize this section of the program and did so for the next several years, and there has been a section on conservation at every symposium since that early date. It was also at this meeting that the group decided that since so many attendees were not from the southwest but included individuals from all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico, this meeting would change its title to the annual North American Symposium on Bat Research.
The third annual North American Symposium on Bat Research convened at the University of San Diego and San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA on November 24-25, 1972, hosted by Roger E. Carpenter. It was at this meeting that a session was initiated devoted solely to the issues involved in bat conservation. There were 93 participants and 49 presentations on the program.
The fourth Symposium convened in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 23-24, 1973, hosted by Alfred Gardner. There were 117 participants and 41 presentations on the program.
The fifth Symposium convened in Lubbock, Texas, November 29-30, 1974, hosted by Dilford Carter at Texas Tech University. There were 89 participants and 36 presentations on the program.
The sixth Symposium convened in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 10-11, 1975, hosted by Glen Bradley and Michael O'Farrell at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. There were 76 participants and 29 presentations on the program.
The seventh Symposium convened in Gainesville, Florida, October 15-16, 1976, hosted by Stephen R. Humphrey at the Florida State Museum and the University of Florida. There were 109 participants and 46 presentations on the program.
The eighth symposium convened in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 14-15, 1977, hosted by M. Brock Fenton at Carleton University. There were 82 participants and 35 presentations on our program. It was at this meeting that the Gerritt S. Miller Award "in recognition of outstanding service and contribution to the field of chiropteran biology" was initiated. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to G. Roy Horst and Karl F. Koopman.
The ninth Symposium convened in combination with the Fifth International Bat Research Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 6-11, 1978, hosted by James S. Findley and Don E. Wilson, at the University of New Mexico. There were 217 participants from 24 countries and 102 presentations on the program.
The tenth Symposium convened in St. Louis, Missouri at Washington University, October 11-13, 1979, hosted by James A. Simmons. There were 119 participants and 53 presentations on the program.
The eleventh Symposium convened at the Los Angeles County Museum in Los Angeles, California, November 20-22, 1980, hosted by James D. Smith and Donald R. Patten. There were 89 participants and 32 presentations on the program.
The twelfth Symposium convened at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, October 15-17, 1981, hosted by William A. Wimsatt. There were 167 participants and 66 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to William A. Wimsatt.
The thirteenth Symposium convened at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, October 15-16, 1982, hosted by Kunwar Bhatnagar. There were 107 participants and 49 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to M. Brock Fenton.
The fourteenth Symposium convened at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado on October 21-22, 1983, hosted by Michael Bogan. There were 59 participants and 20 presentations on the program.
The fifteenth Symposium convened at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois on October 19-20, 1984, hosted by Lawrence Forman. There were 71 participants and 43 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to Thomas H. Kunz.
In 1985 the North American Symposium did not meet, as this was the year of the Seventh International Bat Research Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, and many of the members electedto attend that meeting.
The sixteenth Symposium convened at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 16-18, 1986, hosted by David Klingener. There were 94 participants and 36 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to Harold Hitchcock and Merlin D. Tuttle.
The seventeenth Symposium convened at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 15-17, 1987, hosted by Judith Eger of the Royal Ontario Museum, M. Brock Fenton of York University, and James Fullard of Erindale College of the University of Toronto. There were 106 participants and 41 presentations on the program.
The eighteenth Symposium convened at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on October 13-15, 1988, hosted by Robert M. R. Barclay. There were approximately 100 participants and 56 presentations on the program.
The nineteenth Symposium convened at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, Tennessee, October 19-21, 1989, hosted by Gary McCracken. There were 137 participants and 63 presentations on the program.
The twentieth Symposium convened at The Nebraska State Museum of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, on October 24-26, 1990, hosted by Patricia Freeman and Hugh Genoways. There were 159 participants and 67 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to Bernardo Villa-R.
The twenty-first Symposium convened in Austin, Texas, October 16-19, 1991, hosted by Merlin D. Tuttle and Bat Conservation International. There were 203 participants and 88 presentations on the program.
The twenty-second Symposium convened at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Quebec, Canada, October 21-24, 1992, hosted by Don Thomas of the Universite de Sherbrooke. There were 193 participants and 77 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to Don E. Wilson.
The twenty-third Symposium convened at the Florida State Museum and Lubee Foundation in Gainesville, Florida, October 13-16, 1993, hosted by John Seyjegat. There were 231 participants and 96 presentations on the program.
The twenty-fourth Symposium convened at the Hotel Westin in Ixtapa, Mexico, October 19-22, 1994, hosted by Bernardo Villa R., Hector Arita, and Rodrigo Medellin, all of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. There were 174 participants and 87 presentations on the program.
The twenty-fifth Symposium met in combination with the Tenth International Bat Research Conference at Boston University, August 6-11, 1995, hosted by Thomas H. Kunz and G. Roy Horst. There were 382 participants and 287 presentations on the program. The Gerritt S. Miller Award was presented to Paul A. Racey.
Upon review of all those programs it turns out that approximately 1375 presentations have been made at these meetings which were heard by a total of about 3,100 people. Admittedly some of these individuals are counted many times over, but only Tom Kunz and I were at all twenty-five of these meetings. Looking over the past registration records, it appears that there are about 1,150 different names recorded as paid attendants. It does not seem possible that 1375 abstracts have crossed my desk during that time. Nor does it seem possible that I processed (with a great deal of generous and much appreciated assistance from many other people) over 3,000 registrations and cashed all those cheques! I noticed that dues for that first meeting were $5.00 which went for coffee and pastries, with a few bucks for duplicating the program, and $7.00 for mailing. How much was it in Boston? Happily, we always managed to break even or very nearly so, but there were a few harrowing moments. I will not soon forget that sinking feeling when the head waiter at the Auberge du Tresor in Quebec City handed me a cheque for the banquet and it was "only" $4,700. What if somewhere I had miscalculated, when I calculated the registrations fee?
The Symposium is now entering its second quarter-century, and is planning to hold its twenty-sixth meeting in Bloomington, Illinois, at Illinois Wesleyan University with Thomas Griffiths as host. Hopefully he will enjoy organizing the symposia as much as I have and will agree to undertake that responsibility for at least the next decade. I also hope that he will be as fortunate as I was and will receive the same generous assistance of so many of you as I have. For the opportunity of being of some use I am deeply grateful: It has been a very rewarding and satisfying experience.
To all of you who continue to meet and talk about bats long into the future, best wishes and godspeed. May your cave always be warm and your belfry dry. As for me, I intend to sit in the second row, center aisle, next to Karl, and listen, and perhaps occasionally terrorize a speaker or two with a question that begins, "It seems to me....?"
G. Roy Horst