Bats with Catharine Wüster

Bangor University’s Zoological Society’s most recent talk was all about bats, and was given by Catherine Wüster PhD MCIEEM.

She started the talk by looking at the evolutionary history of bats. It turns out the bat order (Chiroptera, or “hand-wings”) is over 50 million years old, and is very diverse. For example, there diets of bats range from nectar to blood. Some are also important pollinators, and one species, the long-nosed bat, is essential for the production of tequila.

Catherine also talked about their skeletal structure and how bats organise themselves socially. One example that I found interesting was how vampire bats regurgitate blood for others that don’t manage to feed in a given night. In turn, the regurgitator can expect to receive similar benefits another night.

Catherine also talked about the bats of the UK, with a specific focus on North Wales. A total of 18 species of bat are found in the UK, many of which can be found in North Wales.

In her role as an ecological consultant, Catherine has been called out to Halls of Residence and even B&Q to recover bats which have been found roosting there. However, she explained that bats are more commonly found in places such as buildings, trees and bridges.

The talk ended with an explanation of the conservation issues bats face, and how to get involved in bat conservation.

I found this talk interesting and engaging. Catharine made good use of visual aids on the slides.

Although I am fond of bats, I realised during this talk that I have not been as involved in their conservation as I could be. I will start looking for affordable bat detectors, and feel that training to be a bat carer would be a rewarding experience.

Although Catharine’s career as an ecological consultant was not the main focus of the talk, she has inspired me to research that career option. Having volunteered on ecological surveys before, I feel it could be a rewarding career.

Overall, this talk reminded me of why I first became interested in bats, and has given me some ideas about my potential career after university.

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