Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on Bats of Mohican and ‘In Our Own Backyard’

Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on Bats of Mohican and ‘In Our Own Backyard’

10/22/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The second event in Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series for 2015-2016 will be a presentation by AU’s Merrill Tawse, professional instructor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science Program. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education.

Tawse will speak on “Bats in our Backyard: A Mohican Story.” Tawse will talk about some of the unique adaptations of bats, both structural and physiological. He will explain the 24-year study that he has done on the bats of Mohican area, including the motive for the study and some of the projects that AU students have been involved in these last few years as well.

He will describe what has been learned from the Mohican study, including foraging patterns, maternity roost sites and hibernaculas. Tawse plans to touch on the current status of Mohican's bat population in the context of White-nosed Syndrome and make a few comments on other current threats to bat populations globally.

Tawse is currently teaching human anatomy and physiology, entomology, and introductory biology at AU. His previous experiences include over 30 years in outdoor education and research at the Gorman Nature Center. His areas of expertise includes the distribution and foraging behaviors of the insectivorous bats found within the four-state region through the utilization of mist netting, acoustic monitoring, radio-telemetry and fecal pellet analysis.

Previous field experiences include numerous survey projects directed by USF&WS, NASA and ODNR. Grants for several long-term research projects at Mohican State Forest, the Ravenna Army Arsenal and Killbuck Wildlife areas have been secured from Ohio Biological Survey, Ohio Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The goal of the “In Our Own Backyard” series this year is to explore examples of local natural history and ecology and make connections to issues, questions and plans for the future.

“There might be a message about land-use priorities for sustaining what we have, insights about special habitats, or highlights about the less common species that do well in our part of Ohio,” said Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of AU’s Environmental Science Program.

“Here, we define ‘local’ as Ashland and Richland counties in particular and north-central Ohio in general. This part of Ohio represents a unique intersection of geological and biological histories, so our landscape and the wildlife that live here are quite rich,” Saunders said. “This year's environmental lecture series includes wetland and upland examples that offer different perspectives on what makes our own backyard so special.”

The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing at

Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation and additional support from Ashland University. Past series have been supported by AU and grants from the GTE Foundation and the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.

Other events set for this year’s Environmental Lecture Series include, on Thursday, Feb. 11, a presentation by Greg Lipps, who is a Herpetological and GIS consultant and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation coordinator with the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership, the Ohio State University. Lipps will speak about “Conservation and recovery of the eastern hellbender.”

The final presentation of this year’s series will be by Rick Gardner on Thursday, March 17. Gardiner is chief botanist for the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He will share his botanical perspective on “Ohio's natural heritage, with a focus on Ashland and Richland Counties."

Updated information on the series is available at

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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