During the summer, MKO ornithology and ecology teams came together to contribute to the Bats and Bugs project. This is a citizen science project run by University College Dublin’s Earth Institute in collaboration with Bat Conservation Ireland. Ireland has nine species of bats and they are all insectivorous. This means that they eat a range of invertebrates species such as spiders, moths, dung flies and beetles. Importantly, they provide ecosystem services to humans, including seed dispersal, pollination and pest control. However, Ireland’s bats are under pressure from habitat loss, climate change and insecticides. This project aims to study what different bat species in Ireland eat and understand how bats help us to control insect pests, as well as promoting their conservation in the face of environmental change. As part of the study, the “Batlab” at UCD sought volunteers to collect and submit bat droppings from across the country this summer. Researchers at the lab use state of the art DNA metabarcoding techniques to study the bat droppings and identify the insect prey that the bats are feeding on. MKO staff volunteered to collect droppings from bat roosts and submitted them for study last June.
Further details on the project can be found here: https://www.ucd.ie/earth/newsevents/news/body,562733,en.html