Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Mark M. Miller, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Geography and Geology


Throughout history, bats have often become entangled in various myths and legends that have negatively influenced human perceptions of bats. Media outlets often sensationalize the relationship of bats to novel diseases, which also creates negative perceptions of bats in the human imagination. Bats are beneficial to our ecosystems and provide pollination services, seed dispersal, and insect control. However, bats are currently facing a variety of life-threatening issues, such as habitat destruction, fatalities at wind energy sites, climate change, and most notably, white-nose syndrome – a disease that has killed millions of North American bats in the past decade. With bats under this dire amount of stress, it is imperative that humans learn to appreciate this order of mammals and engage in more conservation-related behaviors. In several sites across the US, people can visit cave openings and national parks to engage in bat-related ecotourism. This thesis examines public education at bat-ecotourism sites and its impact on bat conservation. There is little published research available on bat-related education at ecotourism sites to date, and this thesis investigates the best practices in this growing field. Data were gathered through personal interviews with educators at bat-ecotourism sites and through personal observations of these sites. This research identifies models of how bat-ecotourism sites are aiding bat conservation and how educators at bat-ecotourism sites dispel myths about bats, educate the public of their importance, and encourage conservation-related behaviors towards bats.