For the NASBR:  Conference Logo by Angie Fox.  Copyright 2002.  All rights reserved.

Report on the
33rd Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research

Thomas A. Griffiths, Program Director, NASBR
Margaret A. Griffiths, Associate Program Director, NASBR

The 33rd Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research was held at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska, 8-11 October 2003.  Patricia (Trish) Freeman of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources and the University of Nebraska State Museum was the local host.   There were 247 registered participants who attended the three-day scientific conference.  In addition to these participants, there were people from the Lincoln community who attended the Thursday evening open forum on Rabies and Bats: Concerns for Conservation and Public Health, as well as approximately 25 local educators who attended the special Bat Education Workshop on Saturday morning.

Most of the meeting participants were affiliated with academic institutions (65.6%); 16.2% were from federal or state government agencies; 13.8% were from private business or private consulting groups; 1.6% were from zoos and parks; and 2.8% were individuals who attended simply because they were interested in bats.  Students represented 40.5% of the meeting participants.  The majority of NASBR participants were from North America; 88.3% from the United States, 5.3% from Canada, 2.4% from Puerto Rico, and 1.2% from Mexico.  The rest of the participants came from countries outside of North America [the United Kingdom (1.6%), Spain (0.4%), South Africa (0.4%), and Guam (0.4%)].

One hundred sixteen scientific papers were presented at the Lincoln meeting, not counting the six special presentations given during the Saturday morning workshop for local teachers.  Of the scientific papers presented, 72 were platform presentations and 44 were poster presentations. All student platform papers, both competition and non-competition papers, were presented in plenary sessions on Thursday and Friday.  The poster presentation session followed on late Friday afternoon.  Concurrent sessions, from Anatomy to Zoogeography, were held on Saturday.

In addition to these scientific sessions, a special workshop, "Rabies and Bats: Concerns for Conservation and Public Health," was held on Thursday evening. Gary McCracken (University of Tennessee-Knoxville) and Charles Rupprecht (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the two conveners of the workshop, presented opening statements.  Brief statements were also made by Brock Fenton (University of Western Ontario), Tom Kunz (Boston University), Tom O'Shea (U.S. Geological Survey), Paul Racey (University of Aberdeen/Bat Conservation Trust), and Merlin Tuttle (Bat Conservation International).  The forum was then opened to questions and discussion from the floor.  Statements and discussion at the workshop included recently published epidemiologic data, incidence of rabies in bats versus other animals, transmission of rabies by bats versus other animals, public health concerns (national and international), conservation efforts, concerns of bat biologists and the general public, data/information presented to the public, and interpretation (or misinterpretation) of this information by the public.  The open forum was well attended by the meeting participants as well as by individuals from the Lincoln community.

Once again this year, graduate and undergraduate students were invited to enter their platform or poster papers in a competition that judged the scientific merits of their research presentations.  A special committee headed by Betsy Dumont judged 14 student platform papers and 14 student poster presentations.  Five cash prizes of $250 each and a special Speleobooks merchandise prize were presented at the Saturday night banquet.  The award winners for outstanding platform papers were:   Shonene A. Scott (Portland State University, Portland, OR) received the Bat Conservation International Award; Donald I. Solick (University of Calgary, Calgary, AB) received the Bat Research News Award; Liliana M. Davalos (American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University, NY, NY) received the Karl F. Koopman Award; and Diane E. Hirsh (Boston University, Boston, MA) received the Lubee Bat Conservancy Award.  The award winners for outstanding poster presentations were: Tanya M. J. Luszcz (University of Calgary, Calgary, AB) received the Basically Bats Wildlife Conservation Society Award, and Joseph E. Duchamp (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN) received the Speleobooks Award.  Generous monetary donations from Merlin Tuttle of Bat Conservation International, from Roy Horst of Bat Research News, from Roger and Sherry Haagenson and Allyson Walsh of Lubee Bat Conservancy, from the Board of Directors of Basically Bats Wildlife Conservation Society, and from Emily Davis and Michael Warner of Speleobooks made five of the prizes possible.  Donations from a number of individuals made the Karl F. Koopman Prize possible.

Presentation of the student awards was only one of the highlights of the Saturday night banquet.  When the doors of the room were opened for the banquet, the first thing we saw was the ice sculpture in the center of the dessert table -- a bat!  Debate regarding the species of the ice bat continued throughout the evening.... Was it Brachyphylla or EptesicusCraseonycterisNatalus?  Or perhaps Pipistrellus, Miniopterus, or Kerivoula?  And as the evening wore on, the ice bat morphed into other possible species, adding to the debate:   Pteropus, Rousettus, Myonycteris, or maybe Dobsonia.  Kudos to the Cornhusker's executive chef, Terry Owen, for the magnificent ice bat sculpture, as well as for the delicious food and pastries that we enjoyed at the banquet!  Also recognized at the banquet were the members who attended the very first bat meeting in 1970:  Ken Geluso, Tom Kunz, Robert Baker, Phil Krutzsch (the first Host), and Roy Horst (the first Program Director).  Thanks to them, and especially to Roy, the founder of our society, we continue to meet annually to share our research about bats.

Pat Morton of Texas Parks and Wildlife once again organized a special bat education workshop on Saturday morning of the conference.  (Note: Adobe Acrobat is required for viewing the Workshop's schedule.)  Pat's local contact was Sara Toren of the Lincoln Public Schools and the Lincoln Zoo School.  The workshop was well attended by Lincoln-area educators.  This was the eighth consecutive year that Pat has organized this workshop in conjunction with the NASBR.  We thank Pat and Sara for their efforts in making the workshop possible.  We also thank Bat Conservation International, the Lubee Bat Conservancy, the Organization for Bat Conservation, Bat Research News, Speleobooks, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Texas Parks and Wildlife for their generous donations to help support the workshop.

We also thank Troy Terwilliger, Pippa Miller, Kevin Wegner, Blake Tinsley, Larry Rassmussen, Greg Glathar, and the entire staff of the Cornhusker Hotel who helped to make the 33rd NASBR a very memorable and successful meeting.  All meeting participants seemed to agree that the Cornhusker was a great venue for the meeting, and the hotel's staff was outstanding.

We extend a very special thank-you to Trish Freeman, our local host, and her local committee (Hugh Genoways, Zac Roehrs, Federico Hoffman, Angie Fox, Kestrel Lemen, and Sarah Toren), Cliff and Marsh Lemen (Trish's husband and son), Al Kisner, and Donna Mathisen for their help.  We also thank the members of the Board of Directors 2002-2003 (Robert Barclay, Betsy Dumont, Trish Freeman, Michael Herder, Roy Horst, Gary McCracken, Arnulfo Moreno, Dixie Pierson, and Nancy Simmons) and the Student Observer to the Board (Dan Riskin) for all the hard work they did to make this meeting a success.

And finally, on behalf of the entire NASBR membership, special thanks from all of us to Roy, the "founding father" of the society, and, of course, to the bats!

See you next year in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Reprinted with permission and approved editorial changes from Bat Research News, vol. 44(4): 178-180, 2003.

Ice bat photos courtesy of Patty Ruback.

32nd NASBR
34th NASBR