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2 biology students present at animal behavior society

Two students from Austin Peay State University, sophomore Riley S. McCormick and graduate student Morgan E. Kurz, were selected to give scientific presentations at the Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting in Snowbird, Utah.

McCormick is a Presidential Scholar, biology major and an undergraduate research assistant with the Center of Excellence for Field Biology. Two students from Austin Peay State University, sophomore Riley S. McCormick and graduate student Morgan E. Kurz, were selected to give scientific presentations at the Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting in Snowbird, Utah.

McCormick is a Presidential Scholar, biology major and an undergraduate research assistant with the Center of Excellence for Field Biology.
Kurz has worked for the Center of Excellence for Field Biology for three years, was president of the Tri-Beta Honor Society, earned her B.S. degree in biology from APSU and presently works as a graduate lab assistant in the APSU Department of Biology.

Both students conducted research for the Dunbar Cave State Park Bat Project. This project began in 2005 and has tracked bat populations since a new protective gate was constructed at the cave entrance. This project was needed because during the 1970s thousands of bats were killed by a vandal's fire set in the cave. “The bats are protected in the cave system because the area is designated as a natural area,” says project manager Dr. Andrew Barrass.

McCormick's presentation dealt with the differential use of cave chambers by Eastern Pipistrelle bats during torpor (hibernation) and prior to maternal roost formation. His work tracks the bats throughout the year and reviews differences in chamber use during different seasons. The researchers are hopeful that the bats will develop maternal roosts and raise their young.

Kurz's presentation addressed feral cats as the primary predator of bat species. She also compared documented bat predators to a study on feral cats as predators. As part of her studies she researched more than 60 scientific papers on bat predators and found that bats do not have many primary predators.

Only 125 presentations were accepted for this international meeting. The fact that two APSU students were able to participate is a great honor and demonstrates the need for continued research support for the University's science programs, Barrass said.

For more information, contact Associate Professor of Biology and Center Principal Investigator Dr. Andrew Barrass (931) 221-6489. -- Barry A. Williams