Bat Ecology


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Infrared Beam-Break Detection System for Monitoring Bat Activity.

Bats are curious creatures that live in dark places like up in our attics or deep inside caves. They are the only true flying mammal. Nocturnal by nature, they come out at night to feed on insects using their spectacular ability to see through the darkness with ultrasonic radar. Misunderstood and feared by man their populations are under attack from loss of habitation. They need our help to survive. I am currently involved in research projects that monitor bat activity and produce population counts.

For this research I have developed a detector system that is capable of detecting bats entering or exiting an opening and can monitor this activity 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. It is an electronic system that projects an infrared light beam onto a pair of phototransistors. A bat flying through the beam plane will produce an incoming or outgoing electrical pulse that is counted and recorded.

Two installations are currently in use. The first installation is at The NEDA Mine Bat Hibernaculum, an old iron mine near Iron Ridge, Wisconsin. The second installation is at the Maiden Rock Mine in northwestern Wisconsin.

This research has been one of the most interesting and challenging projects I’ve ever been involved with. It incorporates many of the things I find interesting such as:

Finding creative solutions for research problems
Designing and building electronic circuits
Experimenting with light beams and optics
Creating printed circuit boards
Working with researchers
Making things work
... and best of all Having Fun!