Monitoring Bat Diversity in and Around Chicago

Urban WIldlife Institute biologist Julia Kilgour checks a bat-monitoring device in the Chicago area.

Share Your Bat Sightings!

Scientists with the Urban Wildlife Institute are sending up the bat signal! They’re looking for your help to find large bat colonies in the area to study. Send your bat photos, stories and tips to batsignal@lpzoo.org.


Listening In on Local Bat Populations

Flying around at night, swiftly and silently moving above our heads…it’s easy to forget that bats are common residents of large cities like Chicago. Like other kinds of wildlife, bats face challenges and problems as they try to adapt to an ever-changing landscape. In the past few years, bat populations across North America have been on the decline due to a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome.

To better understand Chicago’s bats, researchers at the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute have installed passive acoustic-monitoring systems to accompany their exciting Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring project. The monitoring stations start at Lincoln Park Zoo and extend to the suburban communities outside Chicago.

This non-invasive technique records echolocation calls, sounds that are well above the range of human hearing. This information will tell scientists which bat species can be found in and around Chicago. It will also provide an idea of bat population sizes and whether they’re on the decline. With the growing threat of white-nose syndrome, this type of monitoring is now more important than ever.


Staff

Research Coordinator Julia Kilgour, M.S.   Julia Kilgour, M.S.
Adjunct Scientist, Urban Wildlife Institute
    Seth Magle, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute
Lisa Watson Lehrer is a research coordinator in Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute.   Liza Watson Lehrer, M.S.
Research Coordinator, Urban Wildlife Institute
   

Multimedia

Urban Wildlife Institute researcher Julia Kilgour checks the acoustic bat-monitoring system in the field.

Listening to the Skies
Bats are hard to spot, so zoo scientists listen to the skies to monitor populations in the Chicago area. Urban Wildlife Institute scientist Julia Kilgour shares all the details—including how you can help!

Researcher Julia Kilgour shares bat sightings from locals as well as threats facing the nocturnal fliers. Photo by John Farabaugh.

Back on Bats
Halloween may be over, but the zoo’s work to understand—and protect—bats in the Chicago area continues! Researcher Julia Kilgour shares bat sightings from locals as well as threats facing the nocturnal fliers.

Bat with white-nose syndrome. Photo by USFWS Headquarters.

Post from the President—A Bat Setback
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares that devastating white-nose syndrome has been spotted in Illinois bats—and outlines how zoo scientists are responding.

Urban Wildlife Institute researcher Julia Kilgour prepares to slip a Tyvek suit over a caving suit before heading into a mine to study native bat colonies.

Northern Exposure
Urban Wildlife Institute biologist Julia Kilgour suits up and heads into a mine in southern Illinois to study the spread of white-nose syndrome.

Creative Commons picture of a hibernating big brown bat. Photo by Ann Froschauer/USFWS.

The Bats of Chicago
Just in time for Halloween, biologist Julia Kilgour shares five of the bat species you can find flying over Chicago!