Research Overiew

Here in the Sensory and Movement Ecology lab at UCCS, we link together a mechanistic understanding of how animals sense and move through the environment with detailed studies showing how these fundamental attributes influence ecological interactions.

Current Research Projects

Bat Flight Research

Together with collaborators at Brown University and Lawrence Technological University, we are conducting a multi-year study, funded by the National Science Foundation, to understand bat flight in the context of natural predatory interactions with insects. This project combines anatomical and morphological analyses of bat wings and flight muscles, lab and field studies of bat flight during encounters with insects, and computer simulations of bat flight and predation. 

Bats and Wind Turbines

Every year, tens of thousands of bats are killed at wind turbines. And we still don't know why. A major limitation is that it is difficult to observe bats flying at high altitudes near wind turbines at night. In collaboration with Bat Conservation International, we are developing methods to use thermal cameras to record bats flying near wind turbines and reconstruct their movements with high precision in 3-D space. We hope that this will lead to future developments to help avoid bat mortalities

Bats Shut off their echolocation

In 2018, together with Ted Weller at the US Forest Service, we showed for the first time that bats selectively turn off their echolocation. We think this might be an adaptation for being stealthy to find mates, however this hypothesis requires further testing. National Geographic has funded a study for us to put miniature ultrasound recording devices and accelerometers on bats to better understand their echolocation, flight and social behavior.

Grote's tiger moth, Bertholdia trigona (above) is the only animal in the world known to jam the sonar of it's predator. Mexican free-tailed bats (below) are the only echolocating animals known to jam echolocation