Microbats - What and where?


Dr Lindy Lumsden, Principal Research Scientist, Section Leader Wildlife Ecology

A Little Forest Bat

A Little Forest Bat - adults weigh only 4 g (less than the weight of a 10c piece!)

Lindy is based at the Arthur Rylah Institute, the wildlife research institute of the Department of Sustainability and Environment, where she has been conducting ecological research on bats for almost 30 years. Although based in Victoria, her research has also taken her to remote areas of Australia, such as Christmas Island, and to many countries overseas such as Central and South America, Krakatau, Taiwan, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and Swaziland.

In recent years Lindy’s research has focused on rural landscapes, investigating the distribution, ecology and habitat requirements of insect-eating bats. Bats often comprise half the mammal species occurring in farmland areas. Most species roost in tree hollows, and are dependent on remnant vegetation in farmland for both roosting and foraging. Large old trees, both dead and alive, are critically important. Bats use all remnant vegetation in farmland, including trees scattered through paddocks. They play an important role in controlling insect numbers, including a range of pest species, by eating up to half their body weight in insects in a night. However, due to their small size, nocturnal behaviour and cryptic roosting habits, these valuable animals are rarely seen by landholders or the general public and are often portrayed negatively in the media.

Lindy is passionate about trying to reverse these negative perceptions and conducts a wide range of extension activities, including courses, field days and talks, to educate and enthuse people about these fascinating animals. As most people do not have the opportunity to see bats close up, she brings along a live bat to show at the end of her talk - an Eastern Freetail Bat that has been coming to talks with her for 20 years!

Favourite book

Churchill, S. (2008): Australian Bats. 2nd Edition. Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

This book tells you everything you need to know about bats from Australia. From evolution and mythology to eating and mating habits.

Favourite websites