Multiple wild bats hanging from a wooden ceiling
Zoo scientists walking through the woods


At a time when bat populations across the country are declining, the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute is using non-invasive techniques to study bat species in the greater Chicago area.


Flying around at night, swiftly and silently moving through the sky…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 while trying 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 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.

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


Urban Wildlife Institute
Assistant Director
Urban Wildlife Institute
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