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About Us

Inspiring bat conservation worldwide

Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation (MTBC) was founded by Dr. Merlin Tuttle. He has studied and photographed bats worldwide for more than 60 years. He founded and led Bat Conservation International (BCI) for nearly 30 years, then left BCI in 2009 and founded MTBC.

Merlin’s unique photography and communication first led to global appreciation of bats as safe, invaluable, even cute, and likable. No one has better demonstrated the power of combining captivating photos with sound science to win friends instead of battles for bats. Nor has anyone better demonstrated how conservation can benefit humans. Merlin’s legendary photos and experience provide invaluable guidance and inspiration that must be preserved and shared for future generations.

MTBC is now Merlin’s sole source of support, both for his ongoing conservation efforts and for preservation of his priceless photo collection and legacy resources.n

The Current Problem

Bats comprise one-fifth of the world’s mammal species and are globally essential to environmental health. Nevertheless, they are in alarming decline. In the U.S. and Canada, millions are dying from an introduced fungus. And millions more die annually in the U.S. alone from careless use of wind turbines. Worldwide, countless bats are lost due to cave disturbance and destruction, and some have even become extinct due to overharvesting. Like all life on earth, bats are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and climate change. However, unlike most animals, they are easily misunderstood and victimized by exaggerated disease speculation, leading to deliberate eradication campaigns with disastrous consequences. Because most bats rear just one pup per year and live in large colonies, they are especially vulnerable to extinction.

Why We Must Act Now

Bats are the primary controllers of vast numbers of night-flying insects. Single colonies can consume tons of crop pests nightly, and they pollinate and carry seeds for many of our planet’s most important plants. If bat decline is not reversed, we could face dire consequences such as billions of dollars of agricultural and forestry losses in single countries, dramatically increased reliance on pesticides that can cause cancer and dementia, increased threats from mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile and Malaria, and loss of billion-dollar-a-year crops for lack of bat pollinators.

Hope For The Future

Merlin has repeatedly demonstrated the power of education. His successes on behalf of traditionally misunderstood and persecuted bats are unprecedented, providing a model of hope for the future. His work and legacy have never been more important. We provide clear, science-based explanations to dispel fear and help people benefit from conserving bats. Once people understand the value of bats, most voluntarily become enthusiastic protectors. When thousands of bats began moving into newly created crevices beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, misinformed health officials warned they were mostly rabid and dangerous. Fearful citizens began signing petitions to have the bats eradicated. But when Merlin put fears in perspective and explained bat values, the bats were protected. Today, 1.5 million are enthusiastically welcomed. They attract millions of tourist dollars each summer, consume tons of insect pests nightly, and have harmed no one. Austin is now proud of its bat-friendly fame.

Testimonials

Team

Merlin D. Tuttle

Founder & Executive Director

Merlin started his bat career as a teenager, has done field research on every continent where bats live, photographed hundreds of species. He founded and led Bat Conservation International for 30 years, left in 2009, and founded MTBC. He has been a key force in changing the way the world perceives bats. Merlin is comfortable crawling deep into caves, lugging equipment through tropical jungles, or standing on a stage introducing the world to the Secret Lives of Bats. 

Teresa M. Nichta

Operations ManageR

Teresa’s core responsibility is managing Merlin’s extensive photographic collection. She manages social media, video production, field planning, development, correspondence and all things in between. She loves photography and dreams.

Danielle A. Cordani

Conservation Projects
Coordinator

Danielle is a Wildlife Biologist, providing expertise in bat biology. She addresses conservation issues and generates excitement about protecting our favorite winged friends! She is an avid scuba diver and world traveler.

Marla Gostisha

Business Coordinator

Marla coordinates donor records and office administration. She is a competitive tennis player and enjoys cycling and photography.

Duncan Hicks

Membership and Grants Coordinator

Duncan coordinates member support and grant coordination. He enjoys reading, listening to and playing music, and watching motorsports.

Judy Curran

BookkeepeR

Judy is responsible for collecting, recording, and interpreting MTBC financial information. She lives to travel, exercise, and read.

David Shuler

Administrative assistant

David provides logistical and technical support for MTBC. He enjoys computer engineering, playing soccer, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Alejandro Silveyra

Web Developer

Alejandro focuses on Merlin Tuttle’s website development as well as other behind-the-scenes software matters.

Board of Directors

Dr. Michael Ryan

Mike Ryan is the Clark Hubbs Reagents Professor in Zoology at the University of Texas, Austin. He is a highly awarded animal behaviorist, has published more than 350 research papers and five books, chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute, is a Senior Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and serves as Vice Chair of Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation Board of Directors.

Michael Lazari Karapetian

Michael Lazari Karapetian has over twenty years of investment management experience. He has a degree in business management, is a certified NBA agent, and gained early experience as a money manager for the Bank of America where he established model portfolios for high-net-worth clients. In 2003 he founded Lazari Capital Management, Inc. and Lazari Asset Management, Inc. He is President and CIO of both and manages over a half a billion in assets. In his personal time he champions philanthropic causes. He serves on the board of Moravian College and has a strong affinity for wildlife, both funding and volunteering on behalf of endangered species.

Linda Moore

Linda was the Director of Administration and Finance for Bat Conservation International for 28 years (retired in 2013). She now serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation’s Board of Directors.

Jeff Acopian

Jeff Acopian has a lifelong dedication to conservation, and for more than 25 years he has been a staunch supporter of Merlin’s bat conservation efforts. Jeff is an electrical engineer and Vice-President of Acopian Power Supplies (www.acopian.com).

Dr. Rachel Page

Rachel Page conducted postdoctoral research as a Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Seewiesen, Germany. Page has been a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama since 2009. Her research focuses on behavior, sensory ecology and predator-prey interactions in bats.

Mark Bloschock

Mark Bloschock participated in the Congress Avenue Bridge expansion that led to occupation by the now famous bat colony. He currently serves as Director of Maintenance Operations at VRX, Inc. and lectures nationally and internationally on highway safety as well as on his award-winning accomplishments creating habitat for bats in bridges.

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