The GSC’s Bat Project

October 27 and 28 is Bat Weekend here at the GSC, so we thought it a great time to catch up with the GSC’s VP of Conservation & Research, Lindsey Zarecky, to learn more about bats and how the GSC is working to conserve their populations right here in the Triad.

Lindsey shared with us that bats were her model organism for her master’s thesis back in her college days. Needless to say, she’s a huge fan and is very knowledgeable about these creatures. Today, her focus is on understanding and reducing the negative behaviors and activities that impact the bats’ ecosystems.

Before we get into the specifics, you’ll need to know a little more about how bats travel and find food.

The species of bats found in the Piedmont area are insectivorous and use echolocation for both navigation and hunting. They use ultrasonic (above our ability to hear) vocalizations to help them with locating objects; these sounds bounce off the object and send sound waves back to the vocalizing bat. Interestingly, different species of bats vocalize at different frequencies and at different intensities. These differences help scientists to distinguish between the varying species. Contrary to a somewhat popular belief, bats aren’t blind! Echolocation just happens to be much more efficient for them.

Our resident researchers always have something in the works. Often, these things may go totally undetected by both our guests and even other staff members! So, what’s the deal with the GSC’s Bat Project?

Here at the GSC, we use bat detectors to listen to bats’ ultrasonic vocalizations. Each detector consists of a recorder and a microphone; these detect sounds and record them onto an SD card. The sounds are uploaded to a computer using a special software program, then analyzed by our team. This involves slowing down the recordings and playing them back at a level that we, humans, can hear. Call types we hear include those honing in on prey, social vocalizations and clicking sounds to indicate a bat is simply maneuvering through its environment. As mentioned above, the recordings help us to distinguish the presences of particular bat species.

Lindsey Bat Detector_4730

Lindsey changes the batteries and swaps out the SD card in one of the GSC’s bat detectors.

We have three detectors in operation year-round. Our location is southern enough that bats don’t necessarily have to migrate further south in winter, nor hibernate in caves. Of course, the bats are most active during the hot, humid months of summer. Detectors are placed at varying heights as well as within varying levels of vegetation – one within, one below and one above the tree canopy.

We’re using the detectors to collect information, addressing specifically:

  1. What bat species are present at the GSC?
  2. What is species diversity like throughout the year? Do migratory species tend to stay or leave during winters?
  3. How do different species use the canopy? Do larger bats tend to spend time above or below the canopy while the smaller bats stay within it?

Thankfully, we’re not going it alone when it comes to bat conservation.

Beyond the GSC’s Bat Project, our staff also help with state-wide bat conservation efforts, specifically the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat). This program is an acoustic recording program that recurs each summer. With a bat detector attached to the top of their vehicles, staff drive along designated paths to record data along that particular transect during the nighttime. This helps to establish species distribution across our state.

We also assist the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) with their annual surveying. NCWRC has what are called “mist net sites” scattered throughout NC. At sundown, mist nets are set up and opened to receive bats. Bats fly in, and scientists record their information – including species, sex, age (adult or juvenile), and assesses it for presence or absence of white nose syndrome. Then, the bat is arm-banded and released.

White nose syndrome has been present in the United States since 2006 but wasn’t discovered here in NC until 2011. White nose is a fungal disease that thrives in moist, cool environments, where it grows on the muzzles, wings or fingers of hibernating bats. Hibernating bats enter a state of torpor in which metabolic activity dramatically slows, allowing them to survive the cold months without food or water. White nose is an irritant that wakes the bats during their hibernations, costing them critical calories during a time in which insects are scarce. White nose also causes imbalances in blood pH and potassium levels, which can inhibit heart function and lead to fatality (USGS, 2015). White nose is a serious concern, responsible for the deaths of more than one million bats.

Now that you’re armed with lots of information, what can YOU do to help bats?

#BatWeek-Endangered

Want more bats? Visit http://www.batweek.org

Join us for Bat Weekend! During National Bat Week, come out on October 27 and 28 to learn how you can be a bat hero. Many people don’t realize the huge positive impact bats make on our ecosystem and why it’s important we work to conserve them. We’ll show you how to build your own bat box, play games and more – for bats’ sake! Event activities are free with general admission or GSC membership.

 

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Media Release: Shark Week Coasts into the Greensboro Science Center

GREENSBORO, NC — The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week from Monday, July 23 – Saturday, July 28 with crafts, education stations and games from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. daily. In addition to ongoing activities, including coloring pages, temporary tattoos and photos with Finny (the GSC’s shark mascot), each day of the week will be themed around a unique educational opportunity. Daily themes are as follows:

Shark WeekMonday, July 23
Munch, Munch Monday
Learn what sharks like to eat and how they snag their snacks!

Tuesday, July 24
Toothful Tuesday
Test your shark smarts with a round of “Myth or Tooth” trivia!

Wednesday, July 25
Wonders Wednesday
Explore sharks’ super powers – like their ability to detect electricity!

Thursday, July 26
Thoughtful Thursday
Discover the importance of shark conservation: Why do we need sharks, and how can we help them?

Friday, July 27
Freaky Friday
Learn about the strangest and most unusual sharks in the sea!

Saturday, July 28
Supreme Saturday
Find out which sharks are the biggest, fastest, oldest, and more!

The GSC’s aquarium is home to four species of shark: sandbar sharks, blacktip sharks, bamboo sharks, and blacknose sharks. Sharks have been selected by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as a signature species for SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction). SAFE focuses the collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to save signature species by increasing direct conservation spending as well as increasing work in the field and within zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement. Shark Week is one example of the GSC’s involvement in this vital conservation effort.

Shark Week activities are included with general admission to the Greensboro Science Center. General admission is $13.50 for adults ages 14 – 64, $12.50 for children ages 3 – 13, and $12.50 for seniors ages 65+. Children 2 and under and Greensboro Science Center Members are free.

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The Greensboro Science Center is a premier family attraction in North Carolina that offers the state’s first accredited inland aquarium, a hands-on science museum, an accredited Animal Discovery Zoological Park, a state-of-the-art OmniSphere Theater, and SKYWILD, an animal-inspired treetop adventure park. The GSC is also NC’s only dually accredited AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and AAM (American Alliance of Museums) science attraction – an honor only 14 attractions in the nation can claim. The Greensboro Science Center is located at 4301 Lawndale Drive in Greensboro and is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.greensboroscience.org.

Media Release: Brews & Bubbles Beer Tasting Conservation Fundraiser

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is hosting Brews & Bubbles, its annual beer tasting fundraiser, on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at greensboroscience.org. Prices are $40 for GSC members and $45 for non-members, with 100% of proceeds supporting local and global conservation initiatives.

Brews-and-Bubbles-FB-event

Last year, the event raised $12,000 for conservation and this year, GSC officials hope to raise $15,000.

Lindsey Zarecky, the GSC’s VP of Conservation & Research, says, “Funds raised last year supported conservation partners around the globe, helping to protect species including fishing cats, seahorses, Komodo dragons, sharks, monarch butterflies, lemurs, and penguins. Event proceeds also helped to support our local conservation partners, including the Piedmont Land Conservancy. We’re excited to provide a fun evening event that also raises money to help sustain some of the amazing work being done around the world!”

Each Brews & Bubbles ticket includes beer samples from participating North Carolina breweries, a souvenir tasting glass, hors d’oeuvres, and live music from Graymatter and duo Blind-Dog Gatewood & Abe Reid. Capacity is limited and the event tends to sell out, so GSC officials recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

Media Release: “Wicked Plants” Author to Speak at Science Café

AmyStewart_Headshot

Amy Stewart, author of “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities”

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) will host Amy Stewart, the author of “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities,” at a Science Café on Wednesday, April 4 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Stewart’s book is the basis of Wicked Plants: The Exhibit, hosted at the GSC through May 6, 2018. Admission to the Science Café is free.

About the Science Café

Join author Amy Stewart for a closer look at the medicinal, mind-altering and mysterious properties of plants, from strangling vines to heart-stopping seeds and even a leaf that started a war! Amy blends science with history in this talk, a companion piece to Wicked Plants: The Exhibit. Wickedly tasty snacks will be provided before the talk.

Stewart will also be signing copies of her book, “Wicked Plants,” available for sale at the event. Her talk is geared towards older children and adults.

This event is part of the North Carolina Science Festival, a month-long event that highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in the state.

Amy Stewart Bio

Best-selling New York Times author Amy Stewart is no stranger to the perils and pleasures of the natural world. To date, she has written nine books, including “The Drunken Botanist,” “Wicked Bugs” and “Flower Confidential.” Beyond putting pen to paper, Amy travels the country as a highly sought-after public speaker whose spirited lectures have inspired and entertained audiences at college campuses, corporate offices, museums, gardens and libraries nationwide. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon, with her husband Scott with whom she owns an independent bookstore (so independent that it lives in California) called Eureka Books.

Amy’s books have been translated into 16 languages and her 2009 book, “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities,” has been adapted into a national traveling exhibit entitled Wicked Plants: The Exhibit. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information on Amy, please visit amystewart.com.

October Events

It’s shaping up to be an exciting October at the Greensboro Science Center! Not only are we celebrating our 60th anniversary, but we’ve also got a great fall festival and an eerie evening of spectacularly spooky sights and sounds planned!

Celebrating 60 Years of Science

During the entire month of October, we’ll be spotlighting some special memories from the past 60 years on our Facebook page, but we need YOUR help! Share an old photo, a special memory or a creative piece of art inspired by the Greensboro Science Center on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #GSC60. Not only will you be helping us to make strides on our journey down memory lane, but you’ll have a chance to win an awesome prize, too!

Great Gourds!

Pumpkin-Palooza-FB-EventThanks to our friends at The Fresh Market, we’ll be celebrating the greatest of gourds, the pumpkin, at Pumpkin Palooza on October 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Fresh Market will once again be bringing tasty treats, giveaways, crafts and games for visitors – as well as plenty of pumpkins for our animals to enjoy as special enrichment items. Children are encouraged to come in costume (no masks, please).

Pumpkin Palooza activities are included with general admission to the Greensboro Science Center. General admission is $13.50 for adults ages 14 – 64, $12.50 for children ages 3 – 13, and $12.50 for seniors ages 65+. Children 2 and under as well as Greensboro Science Center members are free.

Fright Light

Fright-Light-FBFrightful fun awaits at Fright Light, October’s evening laser show! Join us on Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. in our OmniSphere Theater for an amazing laser light show set to the sounds of the season. From Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Metallica’s Enter Sandman to Charlie Daniels Band’s Devil Went Down to Georgia and Boris Pickett’s Monster Mash, this show offer tunes perfect for an evening of family fun!

Want More?

If you love local events and want to be the first to know what’s coming up at the Greensboro Science Center, be sure to sign up for our Events & Experiences email!

60 Years of Science

On February 8, 1957, a newspaper article detailed plans for a $28,000 nature center designed as a 38 by 80 foot building at Country Park. On October 5 of that same year, the Greensboro Junior Museum (now Greensboro Science Center) opened its doors for the very first time.

1957 Elbert, Ray Pierce, A.C. Woodruff Jr, Emily Preyer, Major George Roach

© Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Since those humble beginnings, the Greensboro Science Center has gone through numerous expansions and renovations, resulting in a 22-acre destination for science education. And we consider this just the beginning!

Over the past 60 years, we have been incredibly blessed to have the support of so many wonderful members of our community. It is because of YOU – our members, donors, voters and advocates – that we have been able to continue to grow and consistently bring amazing educational experiences to the people of Greensboro and beyond. Here are a few examples of what we’ve been able to accomplish together so far:

1957 – Greensboro Junior Museum opened
1960 – The Junior League relinquished operations to the City of Greensboro
1973 – Greensboro Country Park Zoo opened
1975 – Greensboro Country Park Zoo expansion opened (included puma, bobcat and bear exhibits)
1976 – Edward R. Zane Planetarium Environmental Theater opened
richard-rush-1980.jpg1981 – Dinosaur gallery opened
1989 – The City of Greensboro and the Natural Science Center of Greensboro Board of Trustees entered into a public/private partnership
2000 – A $3.5M bond to expand the Center passed with an overwhelming 72% vote
2007 – Animal Discovery Zoo opened
2008 – OmniSphere Theater opened
2009 – A $20M bond passed to continue expansion and renovation
2011-2012 – HealthQuest, new robotics labs, Adventure Theaters, Extreme Weather Gallery opened
2013 – The Natural Science Center of Greensboro became the Greensboro Science Center
2013 – Carolina SciQuarium opened
2015 – SKYWILD and SciPlay Bay opened
2017 – Aquarium expansion opened; Carolina SciQuarium renamed Wiseman Aquarium

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So, what’s next?
November 17, 2017 – Prehistoric Passages: Realm of Dragons will open
2018 – Rotary Carousel will open
By 2020 – Zoo expansion will open

HELP US CELEBRATE!

In honor of this exciting milestone, we invite you to use #GSC60 to share an old photo, a special memory or a creative piece of art inspired by the Greensboro Science Center. Share it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to be entered into a drawing for a special prize!

Also, be sure to join us at the 60th Anniversary table at Pumpkin Palooza on October 21. We’ll have raffles, birthday-inspired treats and more!

Thank YOU for your support of 60 years of science education!

Learn more about our future plans and discover ways you can help online at greensboroscience.org/thinkbigtogether

Why We Support Penguins

With our annual Tuxedo Trot 5K and Kids’ Fun Run just weeks away, you might be asking yourself “Why African penguins?”

Well, first of all, we love African penguins! African penguins are charismatic birds, each with their own personality that you just can’t help but adore. Have you met our colony? They’re a riot!

Secondly, these feathered folks are truly in jeopardy of extinction. The species has declined over 90% since 1900 — they are even listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means immediate conservation action is required to prevent further declines. African penguin populations are decreasing for several reasons: food shortages, egg and guano removal from beaches, and displacement from breeding sites by other native species. However, knowing why the species is in decline also means we can work to preserve the population and hopefully expand it in coming years!

So, every year, we host the Tuxedo Trot (link) in order to raise money for these beautiful tuxedo-trot-logobirds. 100% of the proceeds from the race go to SANCCOB to support their conservation efforts. SANCCOB is an internationally recognized non-profit organization whose work helps to reverse the decline of seabird populations with a large focus on African penguins. They rescue abandoned chicks and hand rear them, they rehabilitate injured or oiled birds, they educate the locals about the importance of African penguins and they research ways to permanently reverse population declines. Tuxedo Trot funds help SANCCOB to sustain and expand their African penguin conservation efforts.

Want to help us save penguins?

If you haven’t already, please consider registering for the 2017 Tuxedo Trot and help us save these beautiful birds! If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation. Both registrations and donations are accepted online at www.tuxedotrot.com. We’re grateful for your help!