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The Project

History

The project began in 2002 at The New York Botanical Garden and was used as background research for the book Seed Dispersal by Bats in the Neotropics by Tatyana Lobova, Cullen Geiselman, and Scott Mori and to prepare the list of bat-pollinated plants in the Annals of Botany article "The evolution of bat pollination: a phylogenetic perspective" by Theodore Fleming, Cullen Geiselman, and W. John Kress.

The original Access Database available at www.nybg.org focused only on bat-plant interactions in the Neotropics and recorded bat species, genus, and family; plant species, genus, and family; type of interaction (pollination or seed dispersal); and author(s) of the publication where the data was obtained. A complete list of citations was also available on the website.

Over time, it became apparent that additional data would be useful, such as location, habitat type, and more specific detail on the types of interactions. This launched a new phase of the database and it was moved to www.batplant.org and rebuilt using the open-source framework Symfony. The new database no longer focuses only on bat-plant interactions, but now also includes bat interactions with arthropods and has been expanded to include data gathered from all over the world, not just the Neotropics. We realized that an undertaking of this size would take years to do alone and have invited the community to help us enter data using a unique Chrome App that we are building to facilitate offline data entry, editing, and manipulation.

Future Developments

The features of the database are being actively developed. Click here to read about what's coming soon.

Announcements

We have launched the beta-testing phase of the database and look forward to feedback from our users.

Register to be part of Bat Eco-Interactions!

Contact us

If you have suggestions or questions, please contact us at info@batplant.org.


The Bat Eco-Interactions Team

Cullen Image

Cullen Geiselman began her career studying bats in 1998 when she joined the staff of Bat Conservation International (BCI), where she taught bat research and land management workshops in Arizona, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, led natural history tours to Belize, Kenya, and Brazil, developed educational materials for children and adults, as well as presented numerous formal and informal lectures across the US.


In an effort to learn more about bats and conservation methods, she entered graduate school at Columbia University in 2003. There she worked with botanist Scott Mori of the New York Botanical Garden investigating the role of bats in seed dispersal and pollination in lowland rainforests of South America. During this time she spent two years collecting data in an isolated research station in French Guiana and coauthored a book entitled Seed Dispersal by Bats in the Neotropics. In May 2010 she received her doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Columbia University.


Cullen currently lives in Houston, administers a family foundation funding healthcare initiatives in the greater Houston area, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, the Houston Zoo, the Houston Parks Board, the Houston Advanced Research Center and other not-for-profit groups dedicated to preserving and expanding green space for the benefit of people and nature. She continues her work with bats by serving as chair of the board of Bat Conservation International, collaborating with students in Africa and Latin America, and hosting the online Bat Eco-Interactions database.

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Tuli Defex is a multidisciplinary environmentalist and systems thinker who has been involved in a wide variety of international projects. She has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Masters in Agribusiness Management from Universidad de La Salle in Colombia, and holds a Ph.D. in Systems Analysis and Simulation in Ecology and Natural Resource Management from Texas A&M University.


Early on in her career, she joined the government of Colombia to implement a multi-national initiative (Brazil, Colombia, and Peru) to combat wildlife trafficking at the Amazon rainforest. She was a consultant for the Congress of Colombia on a diversity of initiatives involving public health, transmissible diseases, mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts and agricultural practices. Later on, she joined IUCN - Biodiversity Unit in Washington D.C. where she managed a portfolio of projects involving wildlife, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and corporate environmental and social responsibility. She also was part of the USNPS-Inventory and Monitory team where she designed integrated management plans with a systems approach for protected areas in the USA. She is currently an advisor for the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management for North America and the Caribbean.


She brings her vast expertise with multidisciplinary projects and species to increase the efficacy and impact of Bat Eco-Interactions. Tuli's interests include systems approach, ecosystems services, One Health Initiative, community-based conservation, social change, and corporate social responsibility.

Chanda Image

Chanda Bennett’s passion for bats began while glancing at the starry night sky around a ring fire during a camping trip in Kenya, Africa in 1995.  To explore her newfound interest, Chanda volunteered to care for a population of vampire bats as an undergraduate student; participated in a Bat Conservation International workshop in Kentucky; and, explored bat caves on her own.  Chanda’s encounters with bats and other animals (local and exotic) in her early career inspired her to study distribution patterns and population genetics in small mammals at Columbia University where she earned her master’s degree in Conservation Biology and doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  After consulting with several bat scientists, Chanda exercised her expertise to initiate and implement a multi-year urban bat echolocation survey project in green spaces throughout the New York Metropolitan Area in partnership with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Group, Black Rock Forest, and iBats UK. 


As a content contributor for the online Bat EcoInteractions database, Chanda aims to advance our understanding of bats by improving accessibility to our collective knowledge regarding bat interactions around the world. In her spare time, you can occasionally find Chanda co-leading a guided bat tour in Central Park with her colleagues at the NYC Bat Group.

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Taylor Brown is a software developer, database architect, and a strong advocate for the free and open source software (FOSS) movement. For 25 years, he's designed and coded database driven software for a both the web and the desktop.


He first began working with the bat eco-interactions database well over a decade ago, when it was still called the Bat-Plant Interactions Database and was hosted at the New York Botanical Gardens website. In preparation for the current round of development, he spent several months studying biodiversity infomatics and the various data format standards created in recent years to make it easier for ecological research projects to share data.


He is developing the database and the website back-end components of this site to be abstracted in such a way that they can be used as a framework for any web site that needs to publish data on observed eco-interactions. He looks forward to making this framework available as free and open source software.

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Sarah Younger is a software developer who started with batplant.org as an intern over three years ago. From developing the database search page, the data entry interfaces, and the geographic information components to restructuring the database and ensuring data integrity, Sarah has become integral to the development of the bat eco-interactions database and enthusiastic about the potential of this project to lower the bar for information sharing and participation by citizen scientists. Sarah intends to help this website, and various supplemental projects, develop into highly functional tools that facilitate research and data accessibility.


Driven to work to improve the social conditions that our future will be built upon, Sarah volunteers their various programming, social, and organizational skills to support non-profits and community organizations that work to affect positive social change. Passionate about biodiversity and ecological issues, they see the potential for synergy between Citizen Science and Open Source Software to help us better understand the planet, our home.