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

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.


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


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

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

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