16th September 2013

The Vincent Weir Scientific Award is won by young designer of a breakthrough system to support bat monitoring; Charlotte Walters.

The Vincent Weir Scientific Award aims to reward and encourage research on the conservation biology of bats by new researchers.

This years' winner is Charlotte Walters, of ZSL and the University of Kent, and University College London. She has been recognised for the substantial contribution her research has made to more effective monitoring of UK (and European) bats and in understanding their distribution and future threats.

Charlotte developed the first automatic tool for acoustic identification of bats that can be applied consistently across the UK and wider Europe for over 30 species and has made this freely available online. It has been used in at least two bat monitoring projects to date.

Impressed the judges

Dr Karen Haysom, Director of Science, BCT says of Charlotte's entry:"Bats are unique and often challenging to study due to their nocturnal lifestyle and inaudible calls. New tools and techniques to assist monitoring like Charlotte's help us find out more about these fascinating and vulnerable creatures. It is essential for the conservation of bats that we monitor bat populations to find out more about how they use the landscape so we can protect important habitats.

Charlotte particularly impressed the judges with the innovation and technical quality of her research and the impressive output of high quality publications she has achieved during her studentship."

Charlotte Walters said, on finding out she's this year's recipient:

"I'm thrilled! It's fantastic to know that my work is contributing to the conservation of bat populations in the UK. Bats are incredibly important and interesting creatures which unfortunately are threatened.

My work focusses on how to monitor and predict the effects of global change on bat populations, and to identify which species are most at risk. As part of my research I have created a tool to identify bat species from their echolocation calls, which enables bat monitoring to be carried out in a simple and cost effective way."

The Vincent Weir Scientific Award aims to reward and encourage research on the conservation biology of bats by new researchers, and to recognize The Hon. Vincent Weir's major contributions to bat conservation over many years. The Award is awarded annually to a student at a UK-based institution who has made a significant contribution to the conservation biology of bats.

Charlotte Walters is a PhD research student, Institute of Zoology (IoZ), and Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE),University of Kent. She is supervised by Kate Jones (now at University College London) and Ben Collen at IoZ, Bob Smith at University of Kent, and Karen Haysom at the Bat Conservation Trust. She is funded by Natural Environment Research Council (http://www.nerc.ac.uk/ with Bat Conservation Trust as a CASE partner.