Our general research objectives were to establish a firm baseline of information about rabies and the ecology of big brown bats living in close proximity to people, particularly the bat's population dynamics (reproduction and survival), selection of roosts in buildings, and their annual life history cycle. We simultaneously sought to understand how often bats themselves are exposed to the rabies virus, the fates of bats exposed to rabies, and if rabies virus crosses freely among species of bats. This information is fundamental to developing mathematical models for how the disease persists in these bat populations. Data integration and model development are our final objectives.
This work also spurred numerous ancillary objectives. These include surveys carried out by USGS social scientists to determine public perceptions and attitudes about bats and rabies in our area, analysis of recent records from public health agencies, and improving the understanding of the local genetic structure of big brown bat populations.