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Graduate Student Conducts Bat Research for Thesis Dissertation

Bethany Schulze, a graduate student in the Department of Applied Environmental Science, is currently conducting bat research as part of her thesis dissertation. We recently touched base with Bethany to learn more about her unique research experience. Check out her interview below for more insight into the world of bat research.

Bethany holding a bat in the field
Bat in Bethany's hand
Bat in hand

What is the title of your thesis project?

Foraging associations of cryptic foliage-roosting bats across an urban gradient in central coastal California.

What does your thesis research entail?

I am assessing habitat use for foraging along urban-natural gradients for two species of foliage roosting bats, hoary bats and western red bats, during migration and winter. These species may be sensitive to habitat loss due to urban expansion and may serve as good bioindicators of ecosystem health and function. I am using both capture and acoustic techniques to determine bat activity and model habitat suitability. The expected results may help guide land management and bat conservation efforts on the central California coast and provide support for natural habitat buffers around protected areas and urban boundaries.

How is your project contributing to your professional goals?

I want to pursue a career in research, specifically research to inform management and protection of our ecosystems. In many areas, such as with bat research in the western US, we lack protective policies due to data deficiencies. I want to design and conduct projects that fill these data gaps. My thesis project, being the first of its kind in the Monterey Bay area, has required me to strategize to address a difficult field of study and hone my skills for collaborating with multiple types of land owners and managers.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student at CSUMB?

My advisors have greatly supported me in bringing a new field of study to CSUMB. If it wasn't for them this project wouldn't be possible! My friends from my cohort have also been incredibly supportive and have volunteered their time to help with my field work.

What are your plans after graduate school?

I intend to pursue a PhD, hopefully related to bats as bioindicators. I would also like to contribute to making bat research more accessible to a variety of students.

Keep up the incredible work, Bethany! We can't wait to see where your research takes you.