12th May 2017

The Kate Barlow Award was established in memory of the late Dr Kate Barlow, former Head of Monitoring with the Bat Conservation Trust, and in honour of her contribution to bat conservation. The award encourages postgraduate students to conduct substantive bat research projects by providing them with financial support.

It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that Kristen Lear (PhD candidate at the University of Georgia) is the first recipient of the Kate Barlow Award. Her research project focuses on conserving the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). This species is a rare but vital pollinator, classified as endangered by the IUCN due to drastic declines of over 50% in the past 10 years - a decline expected to continue without immediate conservation action. Each spring, the females migrate 1200 km northward from central Mexico to northeast Mexico and the U.S. southwest, where they give birth to their young. During their journey, they rely on the nectar and pollen of agave plants for food, and during foraging provide critical pollination services to the plants which are of vital ecological, cultural and economical value.

The project aims to implement community bat-friendly agave management programs in northeast Mexico. In her application Kristen described the aims of her research:

'By addressing both the ecological and social aspects of the system, this research will be directly usable by conservation groups in designing and implementing bat-friendly agave management programs in communities near two critical roosting caves for the species, which is a priority species for conservation by the Commission of Protected Areas of the Mexican Federal Government and the Mexican Bat Conservation Program'.

'On a larger scale, this research will contribute to the range-wide conservation of the species. Findings will be incorporated into the revision of the Species Recovery Plan through my involvement in the Nivalis Conservation Network, a bi-national group of researchers, NGOs, and government agencies from the U.S. and Mexico working towards the conservation of this species'.

The BCT would like to thank Kristen for her incredible efforts in aiding in the conservation of this endangered bat species. Her project will lead to an immediate and significant benefit for the species. We would also like to thank everyone that applied for the award, for your outstanding efforts in aiding bat conservation. We wish Kristen every success with her research and look forward to getting future updates.

We are still fundraising for the Kate Barlow award and we are very grateful to Steve Parker, from the South Lancashire Bat Group and a BCT Trustee, for fundraising for this cause by running the London Marathon on the 23rd of April 2017. This is an amazing way to honour a dear friend and colleague. His incredible efforts have so far raised over £7,000! We would like to thank Steve for all the support he has given bat conservation and this amazing achievement to support the Kate Barlow Award.

If you would like to contribute to Steve's efforts and help raise money for the award please follow THIS LINK where you will be directed to Steve's fundraising page (note that this page will close on the 23rd of May 2017). We here at BCT are always grateful for each contribution made so, thank you!

The Kate Barlow Award will be open to applicants again in Autumn 2017 so do please keep an eye on the website http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/the_kate_barlow_award.html

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