Date of Award
Honors College Thesis
Geography and Geology
Mark M. Miller, Ph.D.
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.
Copyright for this thesis is owned by the author. It may be freely accessed by all users. However, any reuse or reproduction not covered by the exceptions of the Fair Use or Educational Use clauses of U.S. Copyright Law or without permission of the copyright holder may be a violation of federal law. Contact the administrator if you have additional questions.
Lawson, Bethany J., "Learning to Love Bats" (2020). Honors Theses. 728.