The Echo
A Rising Star

The Echo

A Rising Star

Published on March 22, 2017
Written by Katie Jepson


Merlin Tuttle founded Bat Conservation International in 1982 to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of bat species across the globe. To honor Merlin’s contribution to bat research and conservation, Bat Conservation International is incredibly proud to name Reilly Jackson as the first ever Merlin D. Tuttle Bat Conservation Award recipient.

Bat flying in the sky
Courtesy of Reilly Jackson

The Southeast Asian country of Cambodia is dotted with spectacular karst formations, many of which provide critical habitat for endemic species and a wide variety of bats. However, karst mining is a common in the region and a major cause of habitat loss for many bat species. University of Tennessee graduate student, Reilly Jackson, knows that the bat species affected by the degradation of the karst landscape may be incredibly valuable to the local economy. Reilly's research, entitled “Ecosystem Benefits of Cave-Roosting Bats in Agricultural Areas of Cambodia”  will focus on the economic impacts of cave roosting bats in an effort to foster protection of the karst systems and of the bats that call them home. 

"I feel so honored to have received the Merlin D. Tuttle Bat Conservation Scholarship Award. This money will enable me to advance conservation efforts for the bats in Cambodia, an area where cave-roosting bat research is needed and conservation is a priority,” explains Jackson.

Bat conservation in Cambodia is listed as a priority by the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU), largely due to the small amount of bat research that has been conducted in the country. Considering that Cambodia has over 12,000 miles of unprotected (and largely unexplored) karst habitat, Reilly's research is incredibly important to the future of bat conservation in the region.     

“Since starting my research career in bats, it has been my dream to work on international conservation efforts and now, because of the generosity of Bat Conservation International, I can start this important mission. I believe that if we want to conserve bat populations for the future, we must provide local communities the knowledge that can enable them to stand for their native fauna, while also maintaining their culture and livelihoods. It is my goal to achieve this belief with my work in Cambodia, and I cannot wait to start."

 

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