This past October, Austin, Texas was the place to be if your profession had anything to do with bats. Over 250 bat researchers, conservationists, students, and BCI members arrived in Austin for the 21st Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research. Hosted by BCI, the three-day conference was the largest and best-attended North American symposium ever. It was also the most international. While the conference focuses primarily on work conducted by researchers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, this year scientists from a total of 14 countries presented papers or attended.
Many BCI members, both local and from as far away as California and Pennsylvania, also came to the symposium. Although the bat meetings are traditionally attended mostly by scientists and students, they also offer a unique opportunity for members to discover what is new in bat research and conservation and to gain insight into how scientists conduct research.
Each year the symposium allows scientists and others to share ideas and to update their colleagues on new and ongoing projects. Almost 90 papers and posters were delivered--a record number. In sections divided by topic, papers were given on conservation and endangered species, ecology, behavior, evolution and genetics, echolocation, and anatomy and physiology. Several graduates of BCI's 10-day field workshops contributed important papers on conservation and management issues.
The meetings also offer opportunities for informal gatherings where various issues of special concern are discussed. One of the most talked-about conservation issues this year was bat use of abandoned mines and the urgent need for wildlife surveys before mines are sealed or reclaimed [BATS, Summer 1991]. Another important topic was use of particular bridge designs as roost sites.
Other conference highlights included field trips to observe one of central Texas' spectacular bat flights, and an open house at BCI headquarters. The informal gathering offered a chance for scientists to meet the BCI staff as well as for renewing old acquaintances.
At the traditional closing banquet, Karl Koopman, Curator Emeritus of Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History, was honored for his lifetime of contributions to a better understanding of the systematics, distribution, and biogeography of bats. He was presented with an individual leather-bound edition of a special collection of invited articles prepared as a tribute by the Museum. Dr. Koopman is internationally recognized as one of the world's leading bat taxonomists. The banquet concluded with a special showing of BCI's documentary, "The Secret World of Bats," filmed by Survival Anglia for CBS television.
Hard work and careful planning ensured a smooth-running conference. Behind the scenes was Roy Horst, editor of Bat Research News and a professor of biology at Potsdam College of the State University of New York, who has coordinated all of the last 21 meetings. BCI's Patricia Morton and Jacqueline Belwood coordinated local arrangements, recruiting the entire BCI staff and volunteers from Texas A & M University and the University of Texas.
The bat meetings are over for another year, but work is already underway to organize and choose a location for next year's symposium. Watch for an announcement in a future issue of BATS.
International Meetings in 1992
The Ninth International Bat Research Conference will be held on August 3-7, 1992 in Madurai, India, hosted by Madurai Kamaraj University. For further details and registration information, contact: G. Marimuthu, Dept. of Animal Behavior and Physiology, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, 625 021, India. The international meetings are convened every three years.
Roy Horst, who has organized all of the bat research meetings for the past 21 years, welcomes this year's record group in Austin, Texas.