Roger Tory Peterson Institute To Host Bat Biologist Today

A brown bat is pictured. Jonathan Townsend, a bat biologist, will speak today at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Submitted photo

Bat biologist Jonathan Townsend will host a free public program entitled “Bats and Plants, A Global and Local Perspective” at 7 p.m. today.

Townsend will explore the significant positive environmental impact that bats have on every ecosystem they inhabit. Starting with a brief review of general bat biology and natural history, Townsend will provide an in-depth review of the interactions that bats have with plants and forests globally, as well as the impact that bats have in Western New York. After the presentation an optional evening bat walk is also planned. The walk will entail eavesdropping on local bats with an ultrasonic microphone as they begin to fly around to forage for insects. Using specialized software, bat calls that are normally well above the frequencies humans can hear will be converted to audible and visual signals that are visible in real time.

Townsend has had a lifelong passion for bat biology and conservation. He started researching bats as an undergraduate at the State University at Fredonia, where he studied the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) at the Chautauqua Institution. He conducted his master’s thesis research on the foraging behavior of bats with respect to habitat type, and has also studied bats abroad in Cuba. Townsend continues to conduct bat surveys in Chautauqua County as part of a long-term population monitoring initiative, and works to provide advice and information on bat conservation efforts anywhere he is able to do so.

For more information call RTPI at 665-2473 or visit The institute is located at 311 Curtis St., Jamestown.