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Bat researchers find rich diversity in Colombia

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Category: research Video duration: Bat researchers find rich diversity in Colombia
The team consisting of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty members traveled to the South American country this past summer.
We started out right here at Steger Hall. Drove all the way down to Charlotte, North Carolina. Got on a plane, flew from Atlanta to Bogota. We then took a bus from Bogota to a few different sites, including Canon de Combeima. Colombia is a fantastic country. It's really diverse ecologically and it's really diverse in a topographic sense too. So they have locations in Colombia that are arid. You have locations in Colombia that are in rainforest. Our purpose of the research was to look at what are the viruses that are circulating in different species in bats in Colombia. And also they have the different elevation and different interfaces of bats, and humans, and also livestocks. So, how these interfaces may influence the disease spillover from one species to another species. If we can understand how different ecological factors impact the distribution of different bat species or how they interact with other animals that they're around. We can hopefully understand spillover transmission from one species to another and we can hopefully predict or maybe prevent the next pandemic. I am very interested in studying vampire bats. So, that was something we were very interested in catching as well. Not just the diversity of different bat species, but specifically this one bat species, because it has the ability to transmit rabies virus. We would capture vampire bats across different elevational gradients. Take genetic samples from them. Take serum from their blood so that we can understand what viruses they're carrying. In Columbia, I was running our acoustic project, I feel like it gave me a lot of insight on how lab work actually works, and like how researchers go into the field and collect this data. It has been the most cementing experience of, I want to do this in the future. It was really, really intense field work. But we had a stellar group of students that jumped in with both feet, and really learned every aspect of this process and did a fantastic job doing this research.