Dr. Anton Vlaschenko, PhD
Co-founder & Director of Research
Ukrainian Bat Rehabilitation Center | Ukraine
Dr. Anton Vlaschenko’s project will look at the impact of war-related damages on urban bat populations in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Widespread destruction of buildings, which served as critical roosting sites for bats, has displaced and trapped bats, leading to significant mortality. Bioacoustic monitoring will be employed in both fully and partially damaged buildings, providing insights into how urban warfare affects bats. Project findings will contribute to urban ecology and emphasize the importance of wildlife conservation in urban planning and post-conflict reconstruction. Dr. Vlaschenko hopes to raise global awareness about the impacts of human conflict on wildlife while advancing wildlife research methodology in challenging environments.
Dr. Anton Vlaschenko is a prominent bat researcher and conservationist from Ukraine. His interests include the ecology and conservation of forest-dwelling and urban bats, population ecology, outdoor research, conservation biology, animal rescue and welfare, ecotoxicology, ecoimmunology, and radioecology. Dr. Vlaschenko co-founded the Ukrainian Bat Rehabilitation Center, which is well-known throughout Europe and the world. In 2023, he established the first Bat Biology Laboratory at H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, where he currently serves as the lead researcher.
Brendan Murphy, BS Biology
Naturalist-Educator | Blue Ridge Discovery Center | United States
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC) is addressing the decline in bat populations and raising awareness about their importance. To achieve this, they plan to monitor different bat species on their campus, engage participants in Bat Discovery Night Hikes, and collect data on species occurrence and population estimates. Naturalist-Educator Brendan Murphy and other staff plan to use Echo Meter Touch 2 bat detectors to enhance the educational experience, allowing participants to detect and learn about bats in real-time. BRDC's project aligns with its mission to inspire ecological empathy and conservation stewardship and will provide valuable data for researchers, contributing to wildlife conservation and scientific research on bats.
Brendan holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science and Ecology, which he obtained from Appalachian State University. During his junior and senior years, he worked as a Research Assistant and was involved in assessing contaminated and impacted streams, frequently using bioindicator species in his projects. Currently, Brendan is naturalist-educator at the Blue Ridge Discovery Center in Troutdale, Virginia. In this role, he is responsible for creating and leading programs that educate others about local flora and fauna as well as environmental monitoring. Current projects include monitoring water quality across the campus and conducting surveys of macroinvertebrates, salamanders, and birds.
Awarded: 2 Echo Meter Touch 2
Ellen McArthur, MSc
Faculty of Resource Science & Technology | Department of Zoology
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak | Malaysia
Researcher Ellen McArthur’s project will examine insectivorous bats' behavior in and around Gunung Mulu National Park, particularly their commuting patterns, foraging activity timing, and the impact of forest clearing outside the protected area. To accomplish this, passive acoustic monitoring will be conducted at cave entrances to estimate bat populations and species composition, serving as a baseline for long-term cave monitoring. The project will also compare emergence timing between cave roosts in intact forest within the park and those in cleared or disturbed areas outside. Mobile acoustic surveys will determine commuting distances for foraging outside the protected area. McArthur’s project will assess cave vulnerability, help identify caves in need of protection, and provide evidence of habitat use by forest-dependent bats.
Ellen McArthur is originally from Ireland and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Ecology in 1996. She has lived in Sarawak, Malaysia, at Gunung Mulu National Park (GMNP) since 1992 and has worked with the park's management since 2006. Ellen's primary responsibility is to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and conduct programs for adults and children from local communities who reside next to GMNP. She also communicates with visiting research groups. In 2014, she began part-time research on acoustic surveys of habitat use and activity patterns of bats in a riverine forest at GMNP while pursuing her MSc from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Ellen completed her degree in 2019 and continues to monitor projects in the area.
Annalei Lees, BS
Wildlife Technician Coordinator
The Tulalip Tribes of Washington State | United States
The Tulalip Tribes are addressing the decline of forest grouse and small owl species in Western Washington, which hold cultural and ecological significance. Native grouse populations are dwindling, and small owl species are in decline, potentially due to an increase in barred owls. To address this, the Wildlife Care Technician Coordinator Annalei Lees will use Song Meter Mini 2 acoustic recorders for non-invasive data collection, efficiently monitoring these species' presence and distribution over time. This project preserves cultural connections and traditional knowledge and contributes to broader biodiversity conservation efforts within tribal lands and ceded territories. The data collected will inform conservation measures, including hunting quotas, to ensure the sustainability of these species and their ecosystems.
Annalei Lees is the Wildlife Technician Coordinator for The Tulalip Tribes of Washington. Within this role, she monitors revered tribal species and coordinates the translocation of beavers to the uplands of the Cascade Mountain Range. Annalei holds a trade certificate in Allied Health from Sussex County Vocational Technical High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis, specializing in captive and companion animals. She is pursuing a Master of Arts in Conservation Biology at Miami University.
Dr. José Martínez-Fonseca
Postdoctoral Scholar | School of Forestry
Northern Arizona University | United States
Co-founder | Bat Conservation Program of Nicaragua | Nicaragua
Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. José Martínez-Fonseca aims to improve our understanding of bat populations in Nicaragua, especially in areas with high habitat loss. He and his team will use traditional capture methods along with bioacoustics to identify bat species, particularly those rarely caught in nets. Dr. José Martínez-Fonseca will establish reference call libraries for Neotropical bats and, importantly, build research capacity in Nicaragua by training local biologists and students in bat research techniques, ensuring the sustainability of these efforts. Resulting data will be used to guide landscape planning to promote bat diversity, benefiting ecosystem services like pollination and seed dispersal.
Dr. José Martínez-Fonseca is a wildlife biologist from Nicaragua, where he has studied bats using acoustic recorders since 2009. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2015 from the National University of Nicaragua and his PhD from Northern Arizona School of Forestry in 2022. Dr. Martínez-Fonseca's research focuses on habitat relationships and understanding the landscape ecology of bats, including structure and composition, from roost to regional level. He co-founded Programa Conservación Murciélagos Nicaragua and helped establish international protection status for five critical areas for bat conservation in the country.
Pascal Murhula Mirindi, BS
MSc Student @ Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis | Senegal
Université Officielle de Bukavu | DRC
The Burhinyi Mountain Forest in the DRC is home to a rich biodiversity of global conservation interest, including endemic canopy-dwelling birds, such as the ICUN-listed Rockefeller's Sunbird (Cinnyris rockefelleri) and Shelley's Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza shelleyi). Using bioacoustics, researcher Pascal Murhula Mirindi and his team will inventory these and other canopy-dwelling birds at different altitudinal ranges to develop the first-ever sound library of their vocalizations. Song Meter Minis will record at various intervals around the clock for three successive days before each descent. Results will be used to estimate the relative abundance of species at each altitude (an indicator of forest ecosystem health) and create a biodiversity taxonomy. Mirindi will host community outreach sessions to talk about the presence and utility of birds in daily life and work with traditional chiefs and local leaders to reinforce conservation by speeding up the adoption of community forestry.
Dr. Bonnie Fairbanks Flint, MSc, PhD
Physiology Researcher | Wild Animal Initiative | United States
Dr. Bonnie Flint seeks to understand the lives of sentient wild animals from their perspectives. Though understudied, understanding wild animals' valenced mental experiences (hunger, thirst, curiosity, contentment, and fear) can shed light on their decision-making and behavior, predict population trends, and guide humane wildlife management. With this study, Dr. Flint will combine welfare ecology and urban ecology to understand how environmental conditions affect the welfare of the ubiquitous House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Recorders will be placed in urban and suburban locations in Houston, TX (with the potential to expand to Philadelphia, PA; Santa Cruz, CA; and Bristol, UK) to monitor House Sparrow vocalizations and identify associations between welfare and variables such as temperature and noise level. In addition to expanding the field of welfare ecology, Dr. Flint's study promises applications for urban planning and species conservation.
Kelly Sheldrick, BS Ecology
Citizen Science Program Manager | Conservation Council of WA | Australia
Western Australia (WA) is a sparsely populated state comprising more than 2.5 million km2, making broad-scale monitoring of its 42 known bat species challenging. Building on existing research, ecologist Kelly Sheldrick will engage the WA community in a citizen science project to gather data on how bats are faring amidst climate change and habitat loss (including roosting habitat). Citizen "Bat Champions" across the southwest will establish and walk transects with Echo Meter Touch 2 bat detectors, gathering data on species distribution and habitat requirements. Song Meter Mini Bat acoustic recorders will be deployed at transect sites, providing data on species presence and species-specific roosting preferences to inform the creation of artificial roosts (and protect existing sites). By providing equipment that allows WA citizens to hear and “see” bat echolocations in real time, Sheldrick believes they will be better poised to protect bat foraging grounds, roost sites, and commuting paths.
Lara Oliveira Clemente, MSc, PhD Candidate
Research Coordinator | Amigos de Iracambi | Brazil
In the heart of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest lies Serra do Brigadeiro State Park. Though its original landscape has been progressively degraded for coffee cultivation, the area remains home to an untold number of biological treasures. Iracambi’s Lara Clamente aims to get a comprehensive picture of the park’s ecosystem health—now and throughout its restoration—using passive acoustic monitoring, video monitoring, remote sensing, and soil and water testing. Once completed, study results will be made publicly available, aiding forest managers elsewhere. The acoustic monitoring portion of Clemente’s project will focus on the near-threatened (and noisy) Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) as a bioindicator for ecosystem health. Additionally, Clemente and her team will be listening for the endangered Woolly Spider Monkey (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) in partnership with Muriqui Instituto de Biodiversidade.
Dr. Heungjin Ryu, MSc, PhD | JSPS International Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Social Informatics | Kyoto University | Kyoto, Japan
Project Type: Education & Community Outreach
Project Objective: Survey in a Data-Deficient Region
In 2020, fear of bats spread rapidly alongside the Covid-19 pandemic. To debunk harmful misinformation circulating at the time, Dr. Heunglin Ryu partnered with Korean science magazine publisher Donga Science to implement “Citibats,” a citizen science project designed to educate the public about bat conservation and gather data on bat distribution. Dr. Ryu will now replicate “Citibats” in Kyoto, Japan, using Echo Meter Touch 2 active bat detectors. Taking his research a step further, he has partnered with fishermen groups to survey the Korean Strait using Song Meter Mini Bat recorders. His project will be the first to investigate whether bat species fly between Korea and Japan for seasonal migration. Dr. Ryu hopes this project will encourage future collaboration among bat researchers and citizen scientists in both nations.
Shannon Joslin, BS | PhD Candidate
Genomic Variation Laboratory | University of California, Davis | California, United States
Project Type: Monitoring to Inform Species Conservation
Project Objective: Advancements in Science
Located in Yosemite National Park, Ackerson Meadow is one of the largest mid-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevadas, providing a critical wildlife corridor for at-risk species. In 2016, Ackerson was donated to Yosemite, having endured a century of farming, ranching, and timber harvesting that left a three-mile-long erosion gully network. In 2023, the National Parks Service will begin a multi-year project to restore the landscape’s original wet-meadow habitat—and UC Davis Researcher Shannon Joslin is seizing the opportunity to study how extensive habitat restoration impacts bat activity (a known indicator of meadow health). Joslin’s project will help inform how the National Parks Service supports vulnerable and rare populations when faced with future large-scale landscape alterations/restorations.
Dr. Vanessa Ferdinand, PhD | Momentum Fellow in Computational Biology
Melbourne Centre for Data Science | University of Melbourne | Melbourne, Australia
Project Type: Animal Behavior Studies
Project Objective: Advancements in Science
Dandenong Ranges National Park in Victoria, Australia, is home to the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae), one of the oldest-known songbirds and a master of vocal mimicry. Though lyrebirds in Dandenong have been surveyed and protected since 1958, they are remarkably understudied in bioacoustics. To better understand the patterns of acoustic variation present in their vocalizations, Dr. Vanessa Ferdinand will use passive acoustic monitoring to record individuals at close proximity throughout the breeding season and sample their acoustic environment (an 8 km2 area) for the remainder of the year. With this data, Dr. Ferdinand plans to develop computational tools for censusing lyrebirds in remote locations and dense rainforest habitats, where visual identification of this vocally charismatic species is nearly impossible.
Elle Osborne, MA | PhD Candidate
School of Media Film & Music | University of Sussex | East Sussex, United Kingdom
Project Type: Ecoacoustics/Soundscapes
Project Objective: Conservation in Practice
Soundscape ecology and bioacoustics have primarily been used to document ecological breakdown; however, researcher and musician Elle Osborne aims to flip that model on its head, using environmental sound to demonstrate nature’s resilience and growth. Her project will take place in southern England on a farm set to transition from intensive-to-regenerative agriculture. Osborne will deploy ARUs over five years and use Kaleidoscope Pro analysis software to compare monthly and yearly corresponding changes in the soundscape ecology. Finally, she will use these recordings to create evocative musical compositions (e.g., sound installations, songs, ensemble arrangements) that broaden awareness—and accessibility—to issues surrounding environmental repair, regeneration, and rewilding.Equipment Awarded: 5 Kaleidoscope Pro Licenses
Jennie MacFarland, BS | Bird Conservation Biologist & Arizona IBA Coordinator
Tucson Audubon Society | Arizona, United States
Project Type: Monitoring to Inform Species Conservation
Project Objective: Conservation in Practice
Southeastern Arizona’s 48 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are hotspots for bird and bat biodiversity, providing critical landscapes that support many species’ long-term survival. While historically, volunteers have conducted surveys and gathered data vital to the IBA program, the remote locations of key habitats (and the need for refined timing) require more advanced methodologies. Bird Conservation Biologist Jennie MacFarland will deploy ARUs at select IBAs—including the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area Global IBA, where housing developments threaten a crucial bird migration route—and use Kaleidoscope Pro to answer questions about species of high conservation status. The Arizona IBA Program will use project results for conservation and outreach and share data with key partners to boost its efficacy.Equipment Awarded: 3 Kaleidoscope Pro Licenses
We will conduct or study in Amurum Forest Reserve, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in Laminga Jos-East, Plateau State, Nigeria. This area is home to many nocturnal avian species (Strigiformes and Caprimulgiformes) and natural habitats lost to urbanization and agriculture. Because nocturnal birds are cryptical and require specific census techniques that are only sometimes used, their distribution, ecology, and population size are poorly studied in the Afrotropics. Therefore, we will deploy Song Meter Micros across the three habitat types within the reserve—Gallery Forest, Rocky, and Savannah—to record nocturnal birds from astronomical dusk to dawn year-round. We will then extract and analyze recordings to determine species’ presence and absence, providing a comprehensive inventory and distribution to inform major conservation and management decisions in the Amurum and, eventually, all of Nigeria.
Our study will take place in Nepal’s Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (DHR). DHR is identified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and is thought to hold the country’s largest known population of cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii). However, illegal hunting and trapping have led to a 71% decline in their population from 2003 to 2022. We'll deploy five Song Meter Minis in their habitat to better understand cheer pheasant breeding biology and identify natural and anthropogenic threats (including poachers). Taking this one step further, we’ll try to identify individual vocal patterns to count the area's total population of cheer pheasants. Data gathered will inform reserve managers on which sites to prioritize for protection and restrict human access to maintain safe breeding grounds. Additionally, we will educate the community and local students on the importance of the cheer pheasant and have planned to launch “Eco-Clubs” in schools.
Our research location is the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, specifically, the “Rainforest Dome”—a tropical-themed exhibit that homes colorful species typically found in Indonesia, including eight IUCN-listed birds. We will use Song Meter Mini acoustic recorders and Kaleidoscope sound analysis software to create a 3D digital map of the exhibit and a call library of the 52 individual birds that live within it. Integrating this technology into our animal care practices will allow us to collect data more efficiently, making it possible to census and provide a well-rounded assessment of each animal. Changing our monitoring practices to incorporate bioacoustics also will create a more natural, low-stress environment to keep breeding pairs happy and reproducing. And because domed, spacious habitats like ours are typical for bird populations in human care, we intend to share our methodology with other zoological organizations that face similar challenges.
Our project will take place within the Delaware Estuary—a tidal system in the mid-Atlantic United States dominated by salt marshes and home to roughly 60 ESA-listed or locally at-risk species. Unfortunately, this sensitive habitat is declining due to sea-level rise. We aim to understand if (and how) a saltmarsh soundscape changes as a result of restoration activities. To do this, we’ll deploy ARUs at four sites flagged for habitat restoration for one full breeding season before activities begin. This will allow us to collect, code, and compare soundscape complexity and the presence/absence of indicator species before and after restoration. This data will be invaluable to restoration ecology as it can help ensure that multi-goal salt marsh restoration projects positively impact wildlife and habitat. Our work can potentially inform other acoustic research projects in the Delaware Bay region and beyond.