Abby Rutrough

Abby in action in West Texas, sadly bat free

I approach the world by understanding systems, both human and ecological. I translate this into my research as a conservation biologist and spatial ecologist by directly including human behavior and interactions into mathematical models of human/wildlife interfaces. My first hands-on bat experience was mist netting at a mountaintop strip mine in Eastern Kentucky in 2013 but I have been interested in bats ever since I was a child. I grew up in Kentucky cave country. Spending time in caves, and knowing that they were used by the bats I saw flying over my head at night, sparked my lifelong interest in bats. My passion for wildlife brought me to Humboldt State University (now Cal Poly Humboldt), where I obtained my B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology. While at Humboldt, I conducted and published undergraduate research on the ecological niche of giant kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ingens), and then spent several years as a wildlife technician working on small mammal, bat, and vegetation research projects throughout the USA and in Sabah, Malaysia.

I am now a Ph.D. candidate here in the Kingston Bat Conservation Ecology lab at Texas Tech University, modeling the locations and drivers of bat exploitation behaviors at large spatial scales by integrating spatial ecology with social science theory and structural equation modeling. Because the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate was pivotal for me, I recruited 28 Texas Tech undergraduate students to assist with my research and to give them hands-on research experience which has yielded one undergraduate first-author publication, another in prep, and six undergraduate-authored poster presentations. I am also the Student Representative to the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet) Steering Committee and am a member of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group’s Bats in Trade Working Group. In my copious free time, I enjoy playing fiddle and banjo, baking, and apologizing for my cat when he inevitably interrupts zoom meetings.

We know overexploitation is dangerous to bats, so we’re collecting data on bat exploitation here!