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Scary To Some, Bats Are Key Part Of Region's Ecosystem; Population Study Underway In Channel Islands

The bat population on one of the Channel Islands is the focus of a new research study by a Cal State Channel Islands team

One of the common symbols of Halloween is a bat.

But, researchers who study the tiny and often feared mammals say they get a bad rap. Jason Miller is a Cal State Channel Islands professor who’s heading up a research which mixes biology, and math to try to assess the bat population on one of the Channel Islands.

The research is taking place on Santa Rosa Island. The idea is to come up with a way to identify bat species, and bat populations using their sounds, instead of by trying to catch them. Miller says they know there is one species on the island, but it appears they may have discovered at least one more.

The researchers call bats unsung environmental heroes, because they eat huge amounts of insects like mosquitos, and also serve as warning signs about the state of specific ecosystems.

Miller says even though we rarely see them, California has a huge bat population, and closer to home the Los Padres National Forest has a number of species.

So, while we think of bats being a little creepy, researchers say we should show them a little respect, because they actually help us.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.