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, which was rebuilt using the open-source framework Symfony. The new database no longer focuses only on bat-plant interactions, but now also includes interactions with arthropods and newer groups such as birds, fish, and parasites. The database has also 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 participate!
The features of the database are being actively developed. Click here to read about what's coming soon.
- Users can now submit publications to be added to the database.
- Interaction (ex.) and Taxon (ex.) detail pages added to facilitate data-accessibility with partner-sites.
- Multiple taxonomic groups added to the database: Amphibian, Bacteria, Bird, Fish, Fungi, Mammals, Viruses, and more. Learn more about the data here.
- Registered users are now able to save “sets” of filters and “lists” of interactions, allowing for quick reference and multi-level filtering. Visit the search page and click “Tutorial” to learn about all the ways you can interact with the data.
- Our team of editors is growing quickly! The database has grown to over 14,000 interactions!
If you have suggestions or questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
The Bat Eco-Interactions Team
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.
Aja C. Sherman is a bat biologist, specialized in taxonomy, data mining, and conservation education. Aja started her career as a zookeeper and then a scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural History. Aja has an undergraduate degree in Psych/Bio and a master’s degree in Biology from Long Island University. Her graduate thesis explored ancestral state reconstructions based on chiropteran hip morphology.
After completing her education, Aja went on to direct the education and animal care teams for the Organization for Bat Conservation before the organization folded in 2018. Since then, she has been involved in several bat research collaborations in response to viral vector tracing initiatives. Aja often instructs college Biology courses and is a leading member of the North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) Education and Outreach Committee.
Aja started gathering bat roosting data in 2021 for the COVID-19 Task Force Co-Roosting Project before becoming involved in the Bat Eco-Interactions Project in 2022. She will be curating data submissions, working with contributors and editors to maintain and grow this dynamic hub for citizen science and interdisciplinary collaborations. Aja hopes to enhance this unique tool for robust and impactful science for bats, their conservation, and improved biodiversity and development outcomes.
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.
Sarah Ember is a software developer who started with batbase.org as an intern in 2016, when it was starting out as batplant.org. Sarah is enthusiastic about the potential of this project to lower the bar for participation by citizen scientists and information sharing among researchers and institutions.
Starting as an intern, Sarah worked to import the original data-set into the open-source framework this site is built upon. Since then, they have worked passionately developing and implementing the designs and features of this project, building highly functional tools that facilitate research and data accessibility.
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.
Interest Area: Bat-plant and plant synonymy
Country: United States
Education: PhD in Ecology
Interest Area: Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, Caribbean
Education: MSc Graduate Student
Interest Area: Old world fruit bats
Education: Graduate Student
Interest Area: Bat-plants in Neotropics
Education: Graduate Student
Interest Area: Haemorrhagic Fever Immunity
Country: United States
Education: Undergraduate Senior
Interest Area: Arthropods and new groups in North America
Education: PhD Candidate, MSc Graduate
Interest Area: Roosting
Kelly Garcia developed an interest for ecology and conservation during her studies at the University of Houston-Downtown, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology with concentration in Environmental Biosciences. While completing her undergraduate degree, she interned for a study on pollination by bats conducted by Dr. Cullen Geiselman, which introduced her to the world of bats. She then volunteered at Rice University to assist with a study on population distribution changes of various vertebrate species in Rwanda.
Kelly is now bringing her experience, knowledge, and interest of ecological interactions to the Bat Eco- Interactions team as the database administrator and research assistant to Dr. Geiselman. She believes understanding the ecological role of bats is imperative to conservation efforts in many ecosystems and is excited to be a part of a project that will help disseminate important research. Her goal is to advance and grow the database to include more interactions so it can become a go-to source for researchers and other individuals interested in the field.
She is an animal advocate and likes to volunteer some of her time at a local wildlife rehabilitation center in Houston, Texas, and is working towards becoming an at-home rehabber. Kelly also aspires to attend graduate school to receive a doctoral degree in Ecology and wants to continue studying and contributing to ecological conservation.
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 Environmental Management and Conservation 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, wildlife conservation, ecosystems services, One Health Initiative, community-based conservation, social change, and corporate social responsibility.