A message from Falecia Williams, President, West Campus
A West Campus bat house was constructed in 2013 and erected on the shore of Lake Pamela during spring 2014 through a partnership between multiple disciplines.
Andy Ray, professor, building construction technology, led the design and construction work with the help of students from a variety of curricula, including building construction, civil/surveying and graphic design. Jerry Reed, professor of computer programming/analysis, led the technology work with his students that included a wireless night camera, solar panels to provide power to the structure and infrared sensors to count the number of bats exiting and entering the structure each night.
The inspiration was to create learning opportunities for faculty to engage their students in the outdoor campus habitat. This work was documented by a biology student with guidance from Biology Professor Brenda Schumpert, who passed away in November 2014, and presented at an undergraduate research conference in South Florida.
Why a habitat for bats, you might ask? Well, what you may not know is that bats are important pollinators in the ecosystem. All pollinators, including bats, birds, bees and butterflies, are in global decline due to loss of habitat and pollution. Keeping levels of pollinators up in urban areas is not only important for food production and ecosystem health, but bats also keep disease and pests in check. A single bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects every hour, and each bat usually eats 6,000 to 8,000 insects each night. Therefore, bats serve as natural pest control compared to spraying potentially harmful chemicals on campus.
In spring 2016, this team confirmed the presence of bats taking residence in the campus bat house through visual observation at dusk. This is great news, considering bat houses have about a 50 percent success rate. This number can reach up to 90 percent for bat houses that meet the critical criteria provided by experts.
Although we are unsure the species of bats present on campus, there are a total of 14 species of Florida bats.
If you are interested in building or buying a pre-made bat house for your yard, here are some criteria from Bat Conservation International to ensure greater success.