About Us

No group of mammals has been more misunderstood, needlessly feared, or intensely persecuted than bats. Relying on a powerful combination of science, field knowledge, and photography, MTBC is helping save millions of bats, protecting public health, economies and worldwide ecosystems by teaching people to live harmoniously with bats through Merlin’s one-of-a-kind experience.

Our mission: inspiring bat conservation worldwide.

Current Projects

Take a look at what we're working on!

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.

Team

Merlin D. Tuttle

FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Merlin started his bat career as a teenager and has been a key force in changing the way the world perceives bats. He has done field research on every continent where bats live and photographed hundreds of species. He founded and led Bat Conservation International for 30 years, left in 2009, and founded MTBC in 2014.

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.

Danielle Cordani Headshot

Danielle A. Cordani

CONSERVATION PROJECTS MANAGER

Danielle provides expertise in bat biology, addressing conservation issues, and generating excitement about protecting our favorite winged friends!

Marla Gostisha

MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER

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

Duncan Hicks

GRANT AND MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR

Duncan coordinates member support and grants. 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.

Board of Directors

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.

Dr. Mike Ryan

Bio

Michael Lazari Karapetian

Bio

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.

Linda Moore

Bio

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Jeff Acopian

Bio

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.

Dr. Rachel Page

Bio

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.

Mark Bloschock

Bio

Advisory Council

Mindy Blitch Vescovo

Bio

Mary Smith

Bio

Walter Stewart

Bio

Our Impact

See what people are saying about our work.

Our Impact

"Thank you so much for all the support, help and advice you've given us over the years! We really appreciate it and are so grateful to have someone like you as a mentor and role model. You are truly such an amazing inspiration!"
Sheema Abdul Aziz, PhD
Co-founder & President, Rimba (rimba.ngo) | Principal Investigator, Project Pteropus
"Probably no other biologist has done so much to influence others to study, and ultimately protect, a group of organisms as Merlin Tuttle has done for bats. I am proud to count myself as one of those who was influenced by Merlin."
Scott A. Mori
Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany, The New York Botanical Garden
"I am writing to express my deep gratitude for the amazing work you have done in Brazil. The lecture in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation on September 15th had a great impact on the vision of ecoepidemiologists on bats. The lecture you delivered in the Brazilian Bat Research Meeting/Mammals Meeting and the time you have spent chatting with students in the two sections of the “coffee with the researcher” unquestionably had a great impact on students, their careers, and the way they can be more proactive in bat conservation. I have no words to express my gratitude for accepting my invitation and join us in Rio de Janeiro and Pirenópolis. Please keep your amazing work in bat conservation."
Dr. Ricardo Moratelli
President, Brazilian Mammal Society
"Merlin has played a pivotal and historic role in the conservation of bats. He has crafted a program that blends cutting-edge science, outstanding outreach, amazing photography and professional advocacy to engage, inspire and motivate a global audience. For the past three decades, Merlin has been at the forefront of every important conservation issue facing bats."
John P. Hayes
Chair, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida
"Thank you for all you do for bats. These photos are treasures."
Janell Cannon
Author of Stellaluna
"Fantastic, unsurpassed milestone! Congratulations Dr. Merlin Tuttle! An inspiration and hero to bats and chiropterologists worldwide! I Would not be where I am today, loving what I do, were it not for Merlin. Thank you for paving the way for all of us! Without you there would be no ‘us'."
Joseph D’Angeli
The BATCAVE at The WILD Life! Conservation Center
"Merlin has a self-sacrificing drive deep in his heart and a sincere dedication that he must share. Add communication, conflict resolution and leadership skills and you have a rock solid leader. And he’s a darned good biologist, too."
Cal Butchkoski
Wildlife Biologist, Pennsylvania Game Commission
"I just wanted to thank you for sharing your time to talk with me. I received a lot of good advice and listening to your stories was very inspiring. It was unbelievably exciting being able to talk to the biggest name in bat conservation! Thank you for all that you have done and for all that you continue to do, especially in talking with people like me who are eager to pursue a career in bat conservation."
Kimberly Linnell
"Merlin’s visit in 2000 was a memorable milestone in bat conservation and provided huge impetus and positive media attention to fledgling South African bat groups."
Peter Taylor
Bat Interest Group of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
"It is sheer magic for someone to take on an animal group like bats and give them a totally new public image. Because of Merlin’s magic—his great drive—many, many people see bats today as charming, furry, innocent, cute, and most of all useful Heroes of the Ecosystem."
Sally Walker
Founder, Zoo Outreach Organization, India
"I have known Merlin for almost 30 years. After he burst on the scene at the National Geographic Society, I was his editor and advisor. Merlin is a remarkable character, fitting right in with the many other notable scientists who have received research grants from the Society, people like Jane Goodall, Louis and Mary Leakey, Dian Fossey—the list is long but exclusive. So why include Merlin? Not just because of his stature as a scientist, but also because he understood from the beginning that promoting bats and their importance was a vital key to our understanding of what really matters on our planet."
Mary Smith
Senior Editor (retired), The National Geographic Society
"I have never met anyone who has a better innate understanding of bat behavior than Merlin Tuttle. Moreover, the impact of his conservation work has been felt throughout the world. Merlin has really changed the way that people think about bats—and by so doing he has secured protection for decades to come."
Rachel Page
Staff Scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Merlin’s approach and style has always been one of education and not admonishment, of the careful choice of words and, most importantly, of leading by a positive example.
Mark J. Bloschock
Vertex Engineering, Inc.
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Dr. Mike 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. 

Mindy Blitch Vescovo

Advisory Council Member
Donor Recruitment
 

Mindy practiced employment law with the State of Texas for almost 20 years. She volunteers for numerous organizations, both through the Junior League of Austin and on her own. She served on the board of a wide variety of groups, planned and executed fundraising events, and founded a non-profit that continues to support animal welfare in Central Texas. Her lifelong interest in environmental issues led naturally to supporting MTBC. 

Mary Smith

Advisory Council Member
Special Events
 

Mary graduated from Boston University with a degree in music education. She has worked as a piano technician and piano tuner for most of her adult life. She has held a number of leadership positions in professional groups. She has had extensive experience planning and organizing social and technical events. For the last 16 years, Mary and her husband Walter are restoring their 20-acre property and now have 380 native plant species. 

Walter Stewart

Advisory Council Member
Bat Houses

Walter graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in Physics and Chemistry. He was elected to Harvard’s prestigious Society of Fellows. He spent his career at the National Institutes of Health as a Research Physicist. He elucidated the structure of wildfire toxin, discovered and synthesized the Lucifer family of fluorescent dyes for biological tracing, and did seminal work on scientific misconduct. Walter and Mary have 12 bat houses, participating in research on bat preferences with MTBC.