UCD’s BatLab and Bat Conservation Ireland have launched a new ‘citizen science’ website and are asking the public to submit bat droppings.
Researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) are looking to explore the benefits of bats and are asking the public to get involved.
Batsandbugs.ie is a citizen science website that has been launched by UCD’s BatLab and Bat Conservation Ireland, with support from the Community Foundation of Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
It is part of a project that aims to study the impact of bats on our ecosystem and how they benefit humans, specifically how they help control insect pests in Ireland. The researchers want to better understand what bats eat and plan to find out using bat poop.
This is where the public comes in. People across the country who have bats on their property are asked to collect the droppings and send them to the UCD BatLab. You can find information on how to collect samples and get involved in the project on the new website.
“I am very excited about the launch of this dynamic project. There is so much information in bat poop! “said Professor Emma Teeling, director of the UCD BatLab.
Teeling, who is also a fellow at UCD’s Earth Institute, said the lab will use cutting-edge DNA technologies in bat droppings to discover what they eat and identify which pests they feed on. This will help researchers better understand how bats maintain balance in the ecosystem.
Bat Conservation Ireland’s Dr Niamh Roche said that the charity work has been significantly helped by thousands of people who have contributed to monitoring and detecting bats across the island of Ireland.
“With this project we are asking for help from those who play a key role in the conservation of Irish bats: the custodians of bat shelters. By participating, they will get more information on the species of bats they host, along with information on the types of insects that bats feed on in their area. “
Bats, of which there are nine species in Ireland, are known to benefit humans through seed distribution, pollination and pest control, eating prey such as spiders, moths, dung flies and beetles.
But the climate crisis and the use of insecticides have threatened the existence of the mammal. During Ireland’s recent heat wave, bats were driven out of their natural habitats and spotted on houses, fields and waterways.
The researchers said the consequences of losing bats could be “huge,” so it is vital that we better understand what bats eat, how much they eat, and where.
A study published late last year found that the Áras an Uacharáin grounds are home to the majority of Ireland’s bat species, which take advantage of the site’s forests, pastures and ponds.